Nestled in what seems to be the middle of nowhere in North Carolina lies Bentonville Battlefield. It is one of the smaller Civil War battlefields I have visited, and its name surely isn’t thrown around like some of the others (I am sure you know which come to mind). However, having some smaller historic sites locally, in addition to the bigger ones, I have appreciation for these little gems.
I think you often get the chance to have more personal moments and engage with the staff on one-on-one level that busier sites don’t always allow for. This isn’t always the case, but I do think these smaller, less traveled to sites have their own special charm. I have been to Bentonville Battlefield twice, both this year. Once in April and again in November. In April I had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the property and the house on the battlefield that was used as a field hospital.
Side note, I think field hospitals often offer some of the most active and interesting atmospheres to investigate. For obvious reasons they are extremely active, and we often have to opportunity to help many souls in these situations. At this particular house, like many field hospitals, it had been an actual residence. So, there are many layers to the activity. There are still blood stains on the hardwood floors. Off the back of the house Confederate soldiers were buried in unmarked graves.
When I returned in November it was a quiet afternoon, the visitors office had just closed, and there were less people around than during my first visit. It is always interesting to experience areas of any battle site that feel peaceful. It seems counter to what we would assume. However, for many this ground is their final resting place. While that comes with a mix of emotions, every once in a while, you may come across a section that feels peaceful, and those experiences are some of my favorite. I find myself struggling to express it through words.
At Bentonville, Confederate General Joseph Johnston attempted to stop Union General William T. Sherman’s advance. On March 19th1865, the battle began. Johnston amassed more of a force than Sherman expected, however Union reinforcements soon arrived. The Confederates withdrew their forces on March 21st.
Overall, I wasn’t overwhelmed with the level of activity. But I also did not conduct any kind of proper investigation. If I were to return, I would like to spend more time in and around the field hospital, I would love to investigate that. When I was there the first time that is where I had the most experiences. The second time I was not able to go in the house. So, I will look forward to returning, and I hope you all will look forward to the upcoming locations I have planned to travel to! See y’all next week, happy hunting.