03/15/05 — Re-enactors, specatators expected to crowd Bentonville on anniversary of largest Civil War battle fought in N.C.

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Re-enactors, specatators expected to crowd Bentonville on anniversary of largest Civil War battle fought in N.C.

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Published in News on March 15, 2005 1:45 PM

FOUR OAKS -- Three thousand Civil War re-enactors and 20,000 spectators are expected to converge at the Bentonville Battlefield Historic Site on Saturday to re-enact the largest Civil War battle fought in North Carolina.

On March 19-21, 1865, Union and Confederate forces collided in the woods and fields of eastern Johnston County, with the southerners trying to stop the advance of Union Gen. William T. Sherman's army.

About 80,000 troops took part in the battle, which ended in a Confederate defeat. Sherman, advancing from Georgia and South Carolina, took Goldsboro a few days later.

On Saturday, re-enactors will portray selected engagements in the battle on sections of the original battlefield. Spectators can watch a recreation of the fight for Morris Farm at 1:30 p.m., and the last charge of the Army of Tennessee at 3 p.m.

Civil War historian and author Mark Bradley will narrate the battle scenes. Bradley and and historians Ansley Herring Wegner and Dr. Alan Lamm will deliver lectures on the strategy and tactics involved.

Costumed civilians will lead activities and demonstrations near the Harper House, which was used as a hospital, throughout the weekend.

Staged every five years, the Battle of Bentonville re-enactment is one of the most popular Civil War-related events in North Carolina. Re-enactors come from across the country to take part and create historically accurate costumes and equipment for the event. The Bentonville re-creation is part of a series of events at Civil War historic sites across the state this spring.

In March of 1865, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston hoped to strike the Union forces marching across North Carolina while Sherman's troops divided. The battle raged for three days over 6,000 acres. A month later, at Bennett Place near Durham, the two generals met again as Johnston surrendered to Sherman, ending the war in North Carolina.

The Bentonville State Historic Site, the Bentonville Historical Associations and the Johnston County Convention and Visitors Bureau are sponsoring the re-enactment. Tickets are required to view the battles and are available online at www.bentonvillebattlefield.com at $10 per day or $20 for the weekend. Children 12 and under are admitted free. All proceeds go to the Bentonville Battlefield Historical Association. For safety reasons, spectators are not allowed on the field during re-enactments for safety reasons.

More information can be obtained at www.bentonvillereenactment.com or 1-910-594-0789.