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Battle of Bentonville
Battle of Bentonville.jpg
President Abraham Lincoln

Battle of Bentonville

After seeing a nation torn asunder by great Civil War, President Lincoln witnessed General Sherman sucessfully March to the Sea and through the Carolinas. Soon Lee would surrender to Grant at Appomattox. Within one week of Lee's surrender, Lincoln was assassinated.

Battle of Bentonville
Battle of Bentonville.jpg
(L) Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman; (R) Gen. Joseph E. Johnston

The Battle of Bentonville (March 19–21, 1865) was the last large scale Civil War battle and it was also the last battle to occur between the armies of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston.
Campaign of the Carolinas, aka Carolinas Campaign, was the final campaign in the Western Theater* of the Civil War. In January 1865, Union Maj. Gen, William Tecumseh Sherman advanced north from Savannah, Georgia, through the Carolinas (South Carolina and North Carolina), with the intention of linking up with Union forces in Virginia.
While near Bentonville, North Carolina, the Union forces were met by Johnston's army near the town of Four Oaks.
On the first day of the battle, the Confederate Army attacked one Union Army flank and was able to rout two divisions, however, it did not manage to rout the rest of the army off the field. The next day, the second Federal flank arrived and for the next two days, the armies skirmished with each other before Johnston's army. As a result of the overwhelming enemy strength and the heavy casualties his army suffered in the battle, Johnston surrendered to Sherman little more than a month later at Bennett Place, near Durham Station. Coupled with Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender earlier in April, Johnston's surrender represented the effective end of the war.
The defeat of Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army at the Battle of Bentonville in March, and its surrender in April, represented the loss of the final major army of the Confederacy.
*The campaign originated in the Western Theater and concluded in the Eastern Theater.

Respect and Honor
Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman (February 8, 1820-February 14, 1891) and Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston (February 3, 1807-March 21, 1891) were opposing commanding generals during the Carolinas Campaign.

Battle of Bentonville Map
Battle of Bentonville Map.jpg
Carolinas campaign, aka Campaign of the Carolinas, Map

After the Civil War, Johnston never forgot the magnanimity of the man to whom he surrendered, and would not allow an unkind word to be said about Sherman in his presence. Sherman and Johnston corresponded frequently and they met for friendly dinners in Washington whenever Johnston traveled there. Although many Confederate generals were critical of Johnston, the memoirs of both Sherman and Grant put him in a favorable light. Sherman described Johnston as a "dangerous and wily opponent."
When Sherman died, Johnston served as an honorary pallbearer at his funeral and during the procession in New York City on February 19, 1891, he removed his hat as a sign of respect in the cold, rainy weather. Someone with concern for the old general's health asked him to put on his hat, to which Johnston replied, "If I were in [Sherman's] place and he were standing here in mine, he would not put on his hat." Johnston caught a cold that day, which developed into pneumonia, and he died several weeks later in Washington, D.C.
In a message to the Senate and the House of Representatives, President Benjamin Harrison wrote that "Sherman was an ideal soldier, and shared to the fullest the esprit de corps of the army, but he cherished the civil institutions organized under the Constitution, and was only a soldier that these might be perpetuated in undiminished usefulness and honor."

Sources: Library of Congress; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; National Park Service; National Archives; Map courtesy Hal Jespersen.


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