June 6, 2017

Tourism Development News Release

Contact:  Ashby Brame, 919-989-8687

Visitors Bureau Partners with Bentonville Battlefield to Expand On-Cell Tours

(Smithfield, NC) - For several years, Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site has offered the OnCell Audio Tour as part of the Driving Tour through the largest Civil War Battlefield in North Carolina.  The driving tour traverses 11 pull-offs developed to expand the experience for visitors to the Bentonville Community. Now, the Johnston County Visitors Bureau has partnered with the historic site, to bring that same experience to 8 other Civil War sites along the Carolina Campaign Civil War Trail.

Mark Bradley, author of “The Battle of Bentonville: Last Stand In The Carolinas”, researched and narrated the additional On-Cell stops that include markers at Howell Woods in Four Oaks, sites in Smithfield like the Johnston County Courthouse and Historic Hastings House, Selma’s Mitchener Station, and on to Clayton’s Downtown. “I enjoyed writing and narrating those spots. Between those historical markers and the ones at Bentonville, we now have the Johnston County phase of the Carolinas Campaign pretty well covered,” remarked Bradley.

There is much more to the county’s Civil War history that visitors will discover, and with Bradley’s touch of storytelling and personal accounts from soldier’s diaries, it brings to the forefront what happened here in the young and scarce Johnston County towns in 1865.  Here’s a summary of the new on-cell stops:

Hannah's Creek Bridge. Confederates held this position the evening of March 21 as most of Johnston's army left the Bentonville area bound for Smithfield. Union soldiers were on their heels. Skirmishing here hastened the Southern retreat.

Confederate Line of March.  This is the main road used March 19 by Johnston as he deployed his Confederate army south from Smithfield before the Battle of Bentonville. Part of Johnston's army used this "wretched road" on its retreat from the battlefield three days later.

Union Line of March. Elements of the Union X Corps marched by this spot after leaving Goldsboro April 10 heading northwest toward Raleigh.

Hastings House. This 1854 home served as headquarters for Confederate Gens. Johnston and Bragg mid-March 1865. From here, Johnston ordered the concentration of forces and the attack March 19 at Bentonville. Johnston returned after the battle, resting his battered army.

Occupation of Smithfield. Confederates withdrew from Smithfield April 11, and the town soon was occupied by Union infantry. Sherman established his headquarters at the courthouse, announcing Lee's surrender from its steps.

Mitchener Station. The last reviews of Johnston's Confederate army occurred here April 4 and 7. The troops were urged to "fight till Hell freezes over!" by North Carolina Gov. Zebulon B. Vance. A week later, the army pulled out toward Raleigh.

“Flag of Truce”. Two former North Carolina governors, William A Graham and David Swain, traveled here from Raleigh April 12, 1865, with a letter from Gov. Zebulon Vance requesting a meeting to discuss peace terms. Sherman, headquartered here, received the letter and agreed to safeguard the state capital, which Johnston was then in the process of evacuating.

Bentonville Battleground is part of the Historic Sites Section, Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources and is located 17 miles south of Four Oaks in Johnston County off of US 701 and then three miles east on SR 1008 (marked exits are located on I-95 at exit 90 and I-40 at exit 343).   For more information, please contact (910) 594-0789 or