Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bentonville Battlefield Memorializes Graves in June 11 Program

FOUR OAKS – There will be another Memorial Day at Bentonville State Historic site, on Saturday, June 11. Memorial Day rose from the practice of the families of Confederate and Union soldiers visiting the graves to honor the war dead.

On June 11, grave markers will be dedicated honoring 20 Confederate soldiers who died from wounds received during the Battle of Bentonville in March 1865. The June Summer Seasonal Living History Program is part of the 2nd Saturdays series presented by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (

Artillery and musket demonstrations will take place throughout the day beginning at 10 a.m. The 2 p.m. dedication ceremony will include an examination of the care of dead Confederate soldiers after one of the war’s first battles by Cultural Resources Research Branch Supervisor Michael Hill. An accompanying story will be presented about the care of the dead at war’s end by Assistant State Archaeologist John Mintz, who led the team of historians and archaeologists that found the lost graves. The ceremony will also feature period music, and will be followed by a musket and artillery salute fired by Civil War re-enactors.

The Harper House at Bentonville Battlefield was used by the Union army’s XIV Corps as a field hospital during the battle. When the Federals marched on to Goldsboro , they paroled at least 45 wounded Confederate prisoners of war they had treated, and left them in the care of the Harper family. Eventually 23 of the wounded died, and 20 were buried on the Harper family farm. The exact location of the graves had been lost, but rediscovery of a late 19th-century photograph seemed to show 20 head and footstones just south of the Harper family cemetery.

High-tech ground penetrating radar used by Mintz and Wake Forest University archaeologist Kenneth Robinson confirmed the graves’ location. The Harper House Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a site-supporting group, is raising funds to purchase headstones for the Confederate soldiers. Contact the site to contribute.

Bentonville Battlefield is located at 5466 Harper House Road , Four Oaks, NC 27524, three miles north of Newton Grove on S.R. 1008, about one hour from Raleigh and about 45 minutes from Fayetteville . For more info rmation, visit or call (910) 594-0789

Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site 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, visit

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