The Battle of Bentonville was the last great battle of the American Civil War. It took place barely two weeks before Lee's surrender at Appomattox. The battle here was a result of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston's strategy of attacking Union General William T. Sherman while his forces were divided as they crossed North Carolina.
Sherman, who had recently laid waste to South Carolina, was moving his army north to an eventual link-up with Grant in Virginia. His next objective was Greensboro where he could be resupplied. The terrain in this part of the state is quite wet and Sherman was forced to split his forces to make use of the narrow roads. Johnston saw this as the perfect opportunity for his much smaller force to damage Sherman and he placed his troops to meet the Federals outside the small town of Bentonville. The battle was very nearly a Confederate victory, with the Union troops nearly giving way on the first day. However, as soon as word of the engagement reached Sherman reinforcements quickly started moving towards Bentonville. By the second day the Confederates were outnumbered although the battle stretched into a third day before they inevitably retreated.
Less than a month later General Johnston would surrender his remaining force to General Sherman, effectively ending the Civil War.
United States of America
Armies Engaged: Army of the Tennessee, Army of Georgia
Commanding Officer: Major General William T. Sherman
Casualties: 1,527 or 2.6% (194 killed, 1,112 wounded, 221 captured/missing)
Armies Engaged: Army of the South
Commanding Officer: General Joseph E. Johnston
Casualties: 2,606 or 11.9% (239 killed, 1,694 wounded, 673 captured/missing)
Bentonville - "In 1865, a local market for naval stores (tar, pitch, and turpentine). Bentonville gives name to the battle fought nearby, March 19-21, 1865. Confederates concentrated here the day before the battle. As they retreated on March 22, they burned all stocks of naval stores. Union forces occupied the village March 22-24." -Summary from nearby Historic Marker
Arriving at Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site...
The centerpiece of the battlefield is the Harper House. Situated close enough to the battlefield to be convenient but far enough to be relatively safe, it served as a field hospital for both armies during and after the battle...
The Harper House with the summer kitchen and well...
A short guided tour through the house gives a good feel for what life was like here during and after the battle...
This small room was reserved for wounded officers...
A G-rated look at one of the rooms which served as an operating room in the Harper House...
The other operating room...all of the medical facilities were located on the ground floor...
Heading upstairs, where the Harper Family was confined during the battle and for a short time afterwords...
The makeshift upstairs kitchen...