Posted by Kimberly Jernigan Tidwell, North Carolina, We The Kids
We The Kids on-site at the Bentonville Battle
1865 Bentonville-Battlefield NC
We The Kids was present for this wonderful event. Zach, Lyndsy and Mallory went “back in time” to visit and interview these terrific soldiers. They were able to see how soldiers slept, sometimes out in the open with just a pallet, and the modest food provisions that they had. Zach enjoyed it so much as they all did.
It brought history to life and even though I have been to numerous Civil War battlefields during my lifetime, I gained even more knowledge about life during this time. The children learned that women were forbidden in war, but some women did not want to be without their husbands, so they dressed themselves as men. One North Carolina woman did this, but after her husband was injured and being sent home, she revealed that she was a woman, so she too was discharged.
On March 19, 1865, Joseph E. Johnston put his forces into a “hook-shaped” line at Cole’s Plantation, that blocked the Goldsboro Road. On that morning William T. Sherman’s Federal Left Wing came upon the Confederate trap. The first day’s fighting ended in a tactical draw.
Not being able to destroy the Union lines, Johnston’s Confederates pulled back to positions held earlier in the day, and Sherman’s Right Wing began arriving on the battlefield by midday on March 20. Sharp skirmishing prevailed, as the Confederates changed position to deal with the arrival of the Federal Right Wing. There were nearly 60,000 Union troops (including reserves) against Joe Johnston, who had brought to the field approximately 16,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry to oppose Sherman. Even though they received some reinforcements, the Confederates were no match for the Union army due to their numbers. Johnston held on to a position guarding his army’s sole escape route over Mill Creek, and began evacuating his wounded to Smithfield, 20 miles to the north.
To Sherman’s great irritation, he found the Confederate army still in position on March 21, Sherman just wanted to resupply, he did not want to continue fighting, he really wanted to reach Goldsboro, and was impatient for the Confederates to retreat. The Union took charge of the Harper House and used the downstairs as a hospital for their soldiers, about 500 Union soldiers were treated there during the three days. They were afraid Mrs. Harper would poison them, so she was only allowed to cook for her family upstairs. The children had to help tend to the soldiers and could sleep for 45 minutes at a time, then go back to work.
After two days following the main battle of March 19, the two forces continued a fierce skirmish fight. On March 21 Sherman’s Right Wing maneuvered within a few hundred yards of the left half of Johnston’s army. Later that day, a “little reconnaissance” by Gen. Joseph A. Mower’s XVII Corps division turned into a major push toward Mill Creek Bridge on the Confederate left flank, known as Mower’s Charge.
Mower’s charge overran General Johnston’s headquarters and it forced he and his soldiers to make a quick retreat. At this critical juncture a well-orchestrated Confederate counterattack, led by Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee, quickly descended upon Mower’s two brigades and forced them back. Sherman was extremely upset with Mower’s advance, because he feared it would bring on the engagement he did not want. The Union commander called to stop the advancement.
On March 22 Federal forces followed the Confederates as far as Hannah’s Creek as they were leaving, and finally gave up. Sherman was satisfied with letting Johnston escape, because he expected to meet up with him again. The Confederate pulling back made it possible for Sherman to occupy Goldsboro, which is what he wanted in the first place. He need supplies and his men needed to recoup.
“The armies of Sherman, Schofield, and Terry converged on Goldsboro and occupied the town for two and one-half weeks in preparation for the final leg of the campaign.”
2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville. Bentonville is known as “Last Major Confederate Offensive of the Civil War” and was the largest battle fought in North Carolina. March 21st and 22nd, almost 150 to the day, Bentonville put on an amazing reenactment to commemorate the event. We The Kids was present for this wonderful event. Zach, Lyndsy and Mallory went “back in time” to visit and interview these terrific soldiers. They were able to see how soldiers slept, sometimes out in the open with just a pallet, and the modest food provisions that they had. Zach enjoyed it so much as they all did. It brought history to life and even though I have been to numerous Civil War battlefields during my lifetime, I gained even more knowledge about life during this time. The children learned that women were forbidden in war, but some women did not want to be without their husbands, so they dressed themselves as men. One North Carolina woman did this, but after her husband was injured and being sent home, she revealed that she was a woman, so she too was discharged.
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Absolutely love what you are doing, keep up the good work!
What a great way to learn about our history!
What an experience for the those who attended to see this reenactment. American History is very important for us to learn. So we don’t loose those freedoms, liberties and justice that so many fought and died to give us. God Bless y’all for having this website and doing these re-enactments so that we can learn what it was like.
Great! Just a few miles from my house. Hope the kids had fun.