Bentonville

Bentonville Battle Hero

Bentonville

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While Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum’s advance was stalled at Averasborough by William J. Hardee’s troops, the right wing of William T. Sherman’s army under command of Oliver O. Howard marched toward Goldsboro.  On March 19, 1865, Slocum encountered the entrenched Confederates of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army who had concentrated to meet his advance at Bentonville. Late afternoon, Johnston attacked, crushing the line of the Fourteenth Corps. Only strong counterattacks and desperate fighting south of the Goldsboro Road blunted the Confederate offensive. Elements of the Twentieth 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, 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 Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry rearguard and saving the bridge. Federal pursuit was halted at Hannah’s Creek after a severe skirmish. Sherman, after regrouping at Goldsboro, pursued Johnston toward Raleigh. On April 18, Johnston signed an armistice with Sherman at the Bennett House, and on April 26, 1865, formally surrendered his army.

Battle Facts

Result

Union Victory
COMMANDERS
Forces Engaged
81,000

Union

60,000

Confederate

21,000
Total Estimated Casualties
4,133

Union

1,527
194
killed
1,112
wounded
221
missing & captured

Confederate

2,606
239
killed
1,694
wounded
673
missing & captured