Nearly 150 years after the final shots of the battle were fired, the echoes of history can still be seen and heard at Bentonville Battlefield, the site of North Carolina’s largest Civil War battle. Bentonville is nationally recognized for its miles of pristine entrenchments from the March 1865 battle. Because of their secluded location most visitors have not been able to view the trenches until now.
Civil War entrenchments were long narrow holes dug to protect soldiers on a battlefield. Earth was typically piled in front of the trench often on felled trees or fence railings for added protection. Staff and volunteers began working on a walking trail extension in 2013 that will allow public access to more of these earthworks.
A trail cleared near Union trenches in 2013 impressed renowned battlefield guide Ed Bearss, who said he “never expected to see these trenches open to the public in his life time, and that they were an invaluable asset to Civil War history.”
On Saturday, Feb. 20, staff, volunteers and members of the Friends of Bentonville Battlefield, Inc., will take up tools and continue the work, clearing a path adjacent to Confederate trenches linking them with the walking trail expansion. The Confederate Army of Tennessee built these trenches on March 19, 1865, as they were standing toe-to-toe with Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s Union army.
Those attending are asked to bring small power tools, like weed eaters, and hand tools for brush clearing such as bush axes, rakes, and clippers. Due to safety regulations chainsaws are prohibited. Refreshments and lunch will be furnished by the Friends of Bentonville Battlefield. For more information about the volunteer work day at Bentonville Battlefield and to sign up, please contact Amanda Brantley by phone at (910)-594-0789 or by e-mail at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 is located at 5466 Harper House Road, Four Oaks, NC 27524, three miles north of Newton Grove on S.R. 1008, about one hour from Raleigh and about 45 minutes from Fayetteville. For more information, visit www.nchistoricsites.org/bentonvi/bentonvi.htm or call 910- 594-0789.