Bentonville, NC

[Courtesy of Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site]

Date(s): March 19-21, 1865

Location: Please click on link below for map.

Bentonville Battleground State Historic Site (state historic park), North Carolina, United States

Campaign: Campaign of the Carolinas [February-April 1865]

Battles in Campaign:

Situation:

Commanders:

  • Union: Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum 

  • Confederate: Gen. Joseph E. Johnston

Principal Forces:

  • Union: Sherman’s Right Wing (XX and XIV Corps)

  • Confederate: Johnston's Army

Description:

  • While Slocum’s advance was stalled at Averasborough by Hardee’s troops, the right wing of Sherman’s army under command of Maj. Gen. O.O. Howard marched toward Goldsborough. 

  • On March 19, Slocum encountered the entrenched Confederates of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston who had concentrated to meet his advance at Bentonville. Late afternoon, Johnston attacked, crushing the line of the XIV Corps.

  • Only strong counterattacks and desperate fighting south of the Goldsborough Road blunted the Confederate offensive.

  • Elements of the XX Corps were thrown into the action as they arrived on the field. Five Confederate attacks failed to dislodge the Federal defenders and darkness ended the first day’s fighting.

  • During the night, Johnston contracted his line into a “V” to protect his flanks with Mill Creek to his rear.

  • On March 20, Slocum was heavily reinforced, but fighting was sporadic. Sherman was inclined to let Johnston retreat.

  • On the 21st, however, Johnston remained in position while he removed his wounded. Skirmishing heated up along the entire front.

  • In the afternoon, Maj. Gen. Joseph Mower led his Union division along a narrow trace that carried it across Mill Creek into Johnston’s rear. Confederate counterattacks stopped Mower’s advance, saving the army’s only line of communication and retreat.

  • Mower withdrew, ending fighting for the day. During the night, Johnston retreated across the bridge at Bentonville.

  • Union forces pursued at first light, driving back Wheeler’s rearguard and saving the bridge. Federal pursuit was halted at Hannah’s Creek after a severe skirmish.

  • Sherman, after regrouping at Goldsborough, pursued Johnston toward Raleigh.

  • On April 18, Johnston signed an armistice with Sherman at the Bennett Place, and on April 26, formally surrendered his army.

Photo Gallery:2

Memorial to North Carolina soldiers who fought at the Battle of Bentonville

Back of memorial to North Carolina soldiers who fought at the Battle of Bentonville

Memorial to Texas soldiers who fought at the Battle of Bentonville

Monument to John and Amy Harper for their care dying men at the battle

Union Earthworks

Bentonville trail to the Michigan Engineer trenches

Description of the Bentonville Battle Driving Tour

Bentonville Battlefield Marker - "in suffering condition"

Harper House

Harper Farm Outbuildings

Harper House

Harper Farm Outbuildings

Harper Farm Outbuildings

Harper House

Federal Earthworks Constructed by Michigan Engineers

Federal Earthworks Constructed by Michigan Engineers

Federal Earthworks Constructed by Michigan Engineers

Union Artillery at the Morris Farm

View of the field over which the Confederates made five attacks on Union positions

View of the field over which the Confederates made five attacks on Union positions

Description of Confederate "High Tide"

Map of Union and Confederate Positions

Site of First Union Attack

Description of Fighting at the Cole Plantation

Description of Fighting South of the Goldsboro Road: The Bull Pen

Description of Confederate Line Crossing the Goldsboro Road

 

Classification3: A

Casualties4:

  • Union: 1,646

  • Confederate: 3,092

Results: Union Victory

Battlefield Website:

Lodging and Restaurants: North Carolina  Tourism

Recommended Resources:


1National Park Service summary.

2 Please click on the image to enlarge it. You may copy the images if you include the following note and link with each image: "Courtesy of civil-war-journeys.org."

3 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

4 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 07/20/2013