NC Civil War Sites
Begun on March 15, 1865, the Battle of Averasboro (also called Averysborough, Smith's Mill and Black River) was the "first deliberate, tactical resistance to the infamous march of Federal forces through Georgia and the Carolinas. The battle was fought on the plantation lands of the John Smith family four miles south of the Cape Fear River village of Averasboro." The Battlefield Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 - 5 p.m. For more information, call the Museum at (910) 891-5019 or visit www.averasboro.com
Bennett PlaceThis simple farmhouse is the site at which Confederate General Jospeh E. Johnston and Union General William T. Sherman met in April 1865 and negotiated the largest surrender of the Civil War. Johnston surrendered almost 90,000 men, ending the war in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. Today visitors can tour James Bennett’s reconstructed home and a modern visitor center, which features exhibits and an audiovisual presentation. Call the visitor center at (919) 383-4345 or visit www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/bennett/bennett.htm
Walk on the fields on which 80,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fought one of the last major battles of the Civil War. Tour the nearby Harper House, in which wounded from both sides were treated in an improvised hospital. Then visit the Harper family cemetary, a Confederate grave for 360 soldiers, and the remaining Union earthworks.
The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, was the last full-scale action of the Civil War in which a Confederate army was able to mount a tactical offensive. This major battle, the largest ever fought in North Carolina, was the only significant attempt to defeat the large Union army of Gen. William T. Sherman during its march through the Carolinas in the spring of 1865. Efforts have been underway to preserve as much of the battlefield as possible. Call the site at (910) 594-0789 or visit the site’s store at www.bentonvillebattlefield.com.
Brunswick Town/Ft. Anderson
A pre-Revolutionary port, Bruswick was razed during the war and never rebuilt. Then, in the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed on part of the village site. Colonial foundations dot the tour trail, which crosses the earthworks of the Confederate fort. The serene riverside setting, exhibits on colonial and Civil War history, and the visitor center make for a memorable outing. Call the site at (910) 371-6613 or visit www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/brunswic/brunswic.htm
CSS NeuseAn ironclad ramming vessel, the CSS Neuse was completed in 1864, but low water prevented its active entry into the Civil War. In 1865, the Neuse was scuttled to avoid imminent capture by Union troops. The gunboat’s massive hull, pulled from the Neuse River in 1963, is on display along with fascinating artifacts from the wreckage. Amazingly, nearly 15,000 artifacts were recovered from the ship. The Neuse collection, one of the largest for a Confederate naval vessel, provides valuable insight into 19th-century shipbuilding and naval warfare. The group “Friends of the CSS Neuse” is working to raise funds to relocate and preserve the CSS Neuse, which preservationists say is deteriorating rapidly. Also planned is construction of a new museum adjacent to where the group plans to move the ship in downtown Kinston, NC. This Lenoir County area is rich with Civil War history, as it also boasts two Civil War battlefields. Call the site at (252) 522-2091 or visit the site’s website at www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/neuse/neuse.htm
Rainbow Banks (also called Rainbow Bend and Rainbow Bluff) near Hamilton, N.C. was an ideal location for a Confederate earthen fortification. The bluff— about 70 feet above a bend in the Roanoke River two miles below Hamilton and about 60 miles from the mouth of the Roanoke near Plymouth—provided a clear view in both directions. Its height protected Confederates from the fire of passing Union gunboats as well as offering an exceptional position of attack. The earthworks at Rainbow Banks would become the cornerstone of the entire Roanoke Valley’s defense and serve several important purposes. For more information, visit www.fortbranchcivilwarsite.com.
Until the last few months of the Civil War, Fort Fisher kept the port of Wilmington open to the blockade runners that supplied the Confederate armies. When the fort fell after heavy naval bombardment in January, 1865, its defeat helped seal the fate of the Confederacy. Shaded by gnarled live oaks, the tour trail in front of the earthwork fort offers an unobstructed view of the Cape Fear River. Exhibits in the spacious visitor center include items recovered from sunken blockade runners, as well as a 15-minute audiovisual program which tells the fascinating story of the fort, once known as the Gibraltar of the South. Call the fort at 910-458-5538 or visit www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/fisher/fisher.htm
Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield
In December of 1862, Union troops attempted to destroy a vital railroad bridge in what was then Goldsborough,NC. The railroad bridge was a vital link in the Confederate supply chain and thousands of soldiers fought bravely to either defend it or destroy it. Today the 30-acre site, owned by Wayne County, includes a Civil War Trails marker and a snake rail fence that gives the battlefield a distinct period look. Members of the Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield Association, a local volunteer organization, constructed the fence. They also plan to have trails in place that enable visitors to tour the battlefield. Surveyed earthworks will be preserved and intepreted. The battlefield is located just south of Goldsboro, NC, near the intersection of Old Mt. Olive Road and US Hwy. 117 Bypass South. For more information on the GBBA, call (919) 581-1041.
Kinston/Lenoir County Battlefields
Significant Civil War battles occurred twice in Kinston, NC The first battle of Kinston was part of a general troop movement by Union forces which extended as far west as Goldsboro, as far north as Fredericksburg, Va. and as far south as Wilmington. Union troops under the command of Brigadier General John G. Foster of New Hampshire had already taken the town of New Bern. Foster's troops were estimated at 15 to 30,000, supported by nine small gun boats on the Neuse River. On Dec. 10, 1862 the advance of Union troops on Kinston had begun. By Dec. 14, Foster's inland expedition resulted in 90 Union soldiers killed, 478 wounded, and nine missing. On the Confederate side, 71 were killed, 268 wounded, and over 400 captured.
The battle of Wyse Fork here on March 7-10, 1865, was an attempt by Confederates to delay or halt a Federal advance on Goldsboro. The Union move was ordered by Gen. William T. Sherman in order to consolidate Northern forces and open a supply line to the coast. Able to slow the advance a little, the Confederates withdrew and Union troops continued west. This was the second largest battle fought in North Carolina with nearly 25,000 troops involved. For more information on the battles and the Kinston battlefields, call 252-522-0540 or visit the Lenoir County history center at www.historicalpreservationgroup.com.
New Bern Battlefield
The Battle of New Berne, as it was known then, was fought on March 14, 1862 near the city of New Bern, NC as part of Burnside's North Carolina Expedition. On March 11, Brigadier General Ambrose Burnside’s command launched from Roanoke Island to rendezvous with Union gunboats at Hatteras Inlet for an attack on New Bern. The defending Confederate commander was Brigadier General Lawrence Branch. On March 13, the fleet made its way up the Neuse River and disembarked on the river's south bank only a few miles from the city's defenses. On March 14, three brigades under John G. Foster, Jesse L. Reno and John G. Parke attacked along the railroad and drove the Confederates out of their fortifications after less than a half day of fighting. The Federals captured nine forts and 41 heavy guns. Despite several Confederate attempts to recover the town, it remained an occupied Union base until the end of the war. The ensuing occupation of the City of New Bern essentially cut off rail and naval supply lines to the North, isolating the Confederate Army of Virginia.
Today, the 1862 battlefield site is in pristine condition, never developed or transgressed by builders. The New Bern Historical Society received the core 24.65 acres of the battlefield from the Civil War Trust, and an additional 2.4 acres adjacent to the Park was recently purchased for an entrance road, visitor’s center, and parking. With the help of a grant from the Craven County Tourism Development Authority, the site was awarded recognition by the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, call 252-638-8558 or visit www.newbernhistorical.org/battlefield.html.