Sunday, August 14, 2016

Averasboro and Bentonville Battlegrounds

A Union cannon sits at the point of the Confederate High Tide.
The two tiny crossroad towns of Averasboro and Bentonville are small enough that if you blink you'll miss it.  However, these two rural Eastern North Carolina towns share a greater history.  In March of 1865, two armies - one powerful and marching northwards afterr their infamous "March to the Sea", the other smaller, weaker, and driven by their immense pride - would battle in the final days of our Civil War.   

The battlefields are small enough that you can enjoy and experience both in one days drive.  It is hard to imagine as you drive by the farms and tobacco fields that over 140 years ago the closing days of our country's greatest struggle were fought here.


Averasboro Battleground - March 15-16, 1865:
The Battle of Averasboro was an attempt by the Confederate Army to slowdown the Union advance through the Carolinas to Virginia.  The two day battle began with a skirmish between William J. Hardee's Confederate defenses and the advancing Union Calvary.  The Union Calvary under the command of Judson Kilpatrick withdrew the evening of the 15th after heavy shelling by the Confederates.  The next day with the support of two divisions of infantry under the command of Major General Henry Slocum, the Union Army was able to break through two lines of Confederate defenses but not a third.  With more Union troops arriving at the battlefield, the Confederates under Hardee withdrew and headed to Bentonville to meet with Joseph Johnston's growing rebel forces there.

The Farquhard Smith home which served as a field hospital and later Slocum's headquarters after the battle.  The home is still owned by descendants of Smith today.

A gravestone at Chicora Cemetery.  The Cemetery is the final resting home for over 50 of the Confederate dead in the battle.

Additional gravestones and memorials at the Chicora Cemetery.

Historical marker on NC 82 marking the Confederate first line of defense.  There are numerous historical markers on NC 82 telling the story of the battle of Averasboro.
The Averasboro Battleground is located on NC 82 between Erwin and Godwin.  The battlefield can be easily reached from I-95, US 301 or US 421.  The battlefield and museum is independently operated, most of the battlefield tour and stops are located on NC 82.


Bentonville Battleground - March 19-21, 1865:
The three day battle of Bentonville was the climatic moment of the Carolinas Campaign.  Confederate General Joseph Johnston had amassed much of his army in the area in hopes to stop the Union advance towards Goldsboro.  Encountering the Union Army that morning, the Confederates began the attack and started to smash through some of the Union lines.  However, Union reinforcements shored up the line and overnight Johnston pulled his forces back into defensive positions.   With little more than skirmishes on the 20th, the last day of the battle saw a Union attack near the Mill Creek Bridge repulsed by the Confederates.  The Mill Creek Bridge was important to the Confederate cause as it was the rebel army's only escape route.  The Confederates would withdraw from the battlefield under the cover of darkness on March 21st and 22nd, but time was running short on Johnston and his men.  One month later, Johnston would surrender his army to Sherman near Greensboro.


The Harper House which served as a Union Field Hospital during and after the battle.

A view of the battlefield from the Confederate High Tide tour stop.

Remains of earthworks created by the Union XX Corps.  A brief hiking trail connects the Visitor's Center to the earthworks.

Bentonville Battleground is a North Carolina Historic Site.  The battlefield includes a museum and interpretive center, Confederate grave site, and tours of the Harper House.  There is also a 20 minute self guided car tour.  Maps for the tour are located at the visitor's center.


  • Averasboro Battlefield Commission
  • Battle of Averasboro Summary ---National Park Service
  • Battle of Averasboro Photos ---CivilWarAlbum.com
  • Battle of Bentonville ---North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
  • Battle of Bentonville Summary ---National Park Service
  • Battle of Bentonville ---US-CivilWar.com
  • The Battle of Bentonville ---University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill


  • All photos taken by post author September 2007. 

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