Bentonville Hosts “The Summer Before Secession”

Four Oaks – The year is 1860. Tensions are rising through the summer as the presidential election that could drive the nation apart rapidly approaches. Commonly a social occasion, the local militia muster becomes an opportunity for political jockeying. This will be the setting for Bentonville Battlefield’s program, “The Summer Before Secession,” on Saturday, June 9th.

Interpreters representing Johnston County militia will gather to train with their unit at the home of John and Amy Harper. Since militia musters often doubled as community get-togethers, the families of the men will be on hand as well, offering a glimpse at different activities women and children would have enjoyed. Visitors will be able to view these citizen-soldiers as they demonstrate tactics and weapons from the period, witness a spirited campaign speech, and participate in a game of townball, a sport very similar to baseball which was popular in the 19th century.

The site will open to the public at 9:00am, with activities beginning at 10:00am. Weapons demonstrations will be at 10:30am and 2:30pm. The program concludes at 4:00pm and the site closes at 5:00pm.

The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, involved 80,000 troops and was the last Confederate offensive against Union Gen. William T. Sherman. Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site interprets the battle and the hospital, where many Confederates were left in the aftermath.

The site is located at 5466 Harper House Road, Four Oaks in southern Johnston County and about 3 miles north of Newton Grove