Thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers battled back and forth across the woods and fields of the Willis Cole Plantation March 19, 1865, during the opening phases of the largest battle ever fought in North Carolina. Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site opened new trails through the area allowing visitors access to this battle today (Tuesday).
USA Today ranks Bentonville Battlefield as one of “10 Great Places to Hike through Civil War History” because of these trails.
This area was the site of the “Last Grand Charge of the Army of Tennessee” where remnants of a once great Confederate Army forced the lead Union division to flee from the field. A one-and-a half mile loop trail guides visitors from the parking area past Union and Confederate trenches and through the field crossed by both armies in some of the heaviest fighting of the battle.
An additional trail cut to Union XVII Corps trenches on the eastern edge of the battlefield brings the total trails length to nearly three and a half miles. There are plans for future trail expansion.
“Our trails are not just for history lovers,” says Site Manager Donny Taylor, “We envision science and nature lovers taking advantage of what Bentonville has to offer.”
To that end Bentonville’s trails will soon become part of North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail which stretches 1,175 miles from the Great Smokies to the Outer Banks.
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, NC 27524, three miles north of Newton Grove on Harper House Road in southern Johnston County.
For more information, visit www.nchistoricsites.org/bentonvi/bentonvi.htm or call 910-594-0789.
The Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site is part of the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C.Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.