Over Columbus Day weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to North Carolina to take pictures of the battlefields of Averasboro and Bentonville. These pictures will be used in Calamity in Carolina: The Battles of Averasboro and Bentonville, March 1865. This book is part of the Emerging Civil War Series by Savas Beatie, LLC. Once again, I am co-authoring this work with my good pal, Phill Greenwalt. This will be our third book together, along with Bloody Autumn: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 and Hurricane from the Heavens: The Battle of Cold Harbor, May 26-June 5, 1864, in the Series. As we captured many pictures during the trip, Chris Mackowski recommended that I share some of them with the loyal readers of ECW.
On Saturday morning, my wife and I set out from our hotel and made the trip down to Bentonville. Renowned cavalry historian and fellow ECW author Eric Wittenberg provided some great insight on what ground to cover at Bentonville. The weather was quite pleasant, sunny with clear blue skies, with the thermometer reaching the upper 80s by the early afternoon. This seemed quite hot to my wife and I, since here in Virginia the temperature had barely scratched 85 over the summer. Fortunately, there was a strong, constant breeze that kept us cool. Speaking of my wife Katy, I cannot say enough about her support and patience through all of my writing endeavors. She is often at my side as we explore battlefields and historic sites together.
The image above is of ground occupied by Brig. Gen. James Morgan’s division from the XIV Corps during the battle at Bentonville. In an effort to destroy one of the wings of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s armies marching toward Goldsboro, Joe Johnston struck the Yankees near the village of Bentonville on March 19, 1865. After a devastating assault on the Union left by the remnants of the Army of Tennessee on the first day of the battle, Morgan’s men made a stand below the Upper Goldsboro Road. Fighting from both sides of their earthworks, the Federals were able to stem the Rebel tide and the attack steadily lost momentum. Reinforcements eventually pushed the Confederates back. Morgan’s fighting was instrumental in holding the Union line. The fighting continued through March 21, before Johnston disengaged.
The North Carolina monument is depicted above. The Texas monument, the Harper family and Confederate cemeteries are in the right background. If you have never been to Bentonville, it is well worth the trip. Much of the battlefield looks the same as it did in March 1865,
On Sunday, we set off for Averasboro, which is about 20-25 minutes from the Bentonville battlefield. The weather was completely different than Saturday, overcast and cool—perfect sweatshirt weather. But, the day brightened with the presence of my brother Matt and his fiancée, Candice, who accompanied us to the battlefield. They made the drive down on Saturday and met us for a long weekend.
The grave above is of a South Carolina officer in the Chicora Cemetery at Averasboro. This battle was fought a few days before Bentonville. During the battle, Lieut. Gen. William Hardee employed a defense in depth against the Federals marching northward from Fayetteville. Daniel Morgan employed a similar tactic at the Battle of Cowpens during the American Revolution. The cemetery is located on the third Confederate line.
This image is of the first Confederate line. The monument in the background commemorates the XX Corps that was engaged during the battle. Darkness eventually brought an end to the battle. Hardee’s action bought a precious day for Johnston to consolidate his forces and attack the Federals at Bentonville.