Battle of Bentonville. (Library of Congress)
The Battle of Bentonville pitted Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s stout veterans against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s withering Army of the Tennessee. While the right wing of Sherman’s army under the command of Maj. Gen. O.O. Howard moved on Goldsborough, North Carolina, the left wing, under the command of Maj. Gen. H. W. Slocum, kept in hot pursuit of the ever-retreating Johnston. On the 19th of March, Slocum encountered Johnston’s army near Bentonville, North Carolina, and barely was able to hold his line against the spirited Rebel Attacks. Both sides began to consolidate their lines of battle as darkness descended. The 20th saw little fighting, with both sides opting to further strengthen their positions and collect available reinforcements. Sherman, fully expecting the weary Johnston to retreat in the face of his army like so many times before, was surprised to see the Army of the Tennessee still in the field on the morning of March 21st, and thus Union Maj. Gen. Joseph A. Mower’s division moved forward that afternoon. Mower’s men compelled Johnston to lead the battered Army of the Tennessee toward Raleigh and away from Sherman, thus ending the battle.