FOUR OAKS – Grave markers honoring 20 Confederate soldiers who died during the three-day Battle of Bentonville, which caused nearly 4,200 Union and Confederate casualties, will be dedicated at the site on June 11. The ceremony is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources’ 2nd Saturdays summer series combining arts and history, and is also the site’s annual June Summer Seasonal Living History Program.
Starting at 10 a.m., visitors will hear artillery and musket fire such as split the air in March 1865. The permanent marker dedication ceremony will be at 2 p.m.
The farm home of John and Amy Harper became the Union Army XIV field hospital during the battle, where nearly 600 Union soldiers and an unknown number of Confederates were treated. After the battle the Union army marched on to Goldsboro , paroling at least 45 wounded Confederates left in the care of the Harpers. In spite of the Harpers’ best efforts, 23 of the soldiers died and 20 were buried on the farm.
Over the years the exact location of the Confederate graves was lost. Thanks to 21st-century technology and discovery of a late 19th-century photograph, the cemetery was found. The picture shows 20 headstones and footstones just south of the Harper family cemetery. Assistant State Archaeologist John Mintz and Wake Forest University Director of Public Archaeology Kenneth Robinson led a team of archaeologists who confirmed the graves’ location using ground-penetrating radar.
The Harper House Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a Bentonville Battlefield support group, is raising funds to purchase headstones for the graves. To contribute, contact the site at (910) 594-0789.
During the dedication, research historian Michael Hill from the N.C. Office of Archives and History will present a talk about the care of a fallen Confederate soldier at one of the war’s first battles. Archaeologist John Mintz will speak on archaeological discoveries at Bentonville and on the treatment of the dead in the last days of the war. A musket and artillery salute by Civil War re-enactors will follow.
Bentonville Battlefield is located at 5466 Harper House Road , Four Oaks, N.C. 27524, three miles north of Newton Grove on S.R. 1008; it is about one hour from Raleigh and about 45 minutes from Fayetteville . For more info rmation, visit http://www.nchistoricsites.org/bentonvi/ or call (910) 594-0789.
Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site in the Division of State Historic Sites is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina ’s social, cultural and economic future. For more info rmation on Cultural Resources, visit http://www.ncculture.com/.