Monday, April 19, 2010

Bennet Place Surrender Site

After Major General Sherman's infamous March to the Sea, his army turned north to begin the Carolina's campaign. News of Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 had reached General Joseph E. Johnston. Johnston realized that his army could not continue the fight and contacted Sherman to discuss a truce. The two men agreed to meet and selected the farm of James and Nancy Bennett as convenient and private location to hold their talks.

They met on April 17, 1865 and Sherman informed Johnston about the assassination of President Lincoln. They met again on April 18th and signed terms of surrender. Unfortunately, government officials in Washington were enrages with Sherman because they felt he had exceeded his authority and granted terms for favorable than Grant had given Lee. The generals met again on April 26th and signed the final surrender papers for 89,270 Confederate soldiers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

The 145th anniversary reenactment was held on April 17th at Bennett Place Historical Site in Durham, NC. Steve Brantley captured the event with 160 pictures which can be found at Bennett Place 145th Anniversary Surrender Reenactment .

1 comment:

Steve Brantley said...

During the period of April 1865, when the war had moved into the Bentonville, NC battle phase, President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet were on the move by rail from Raleigh and Greensboro, NC and then up to Danville, Va. It was in Danville, VA that Davis and his staff gathered in what is now called the "last Cabinet meeting and capitol of the Confederacy". The location of that meeting is a massive historic home that still stands and is a tourist attraction today, called the Sutherlin Mansion. That home served as the residence of the Quartermaster of the Confederacy at that time (Major W.T. Sutherlin. Jefferson Davis ordered General Joseph Johnston to delay Sherman's northward march through North Carolina (which did lead to the Bentonville, NC battle), and then strongly encouraged him to help escort President Davis and his Cabinet to Texas, where a new Confederate capital would be reestablished. However, mostly likely seeing the great difficulty of that endeavor and the eventual end of the war regardless, Gen. Joseph Johnston negotiated the surrender in Durham, NC at the Bennett family farm. Johnston earlier composed his surrender document in nearby Hillsborough, NC in the historic "Ayr Mount" home of Confederate General W.W. Kirkland. Over 80,000 Federal troops were camped in nearby Greensboro at that time, and the smaller southern forces were adjacent. The larger Confederate forces that had traveled from Tennessee and westward toward North Carolina had failed to join up with Gen. Johnston's forces in time to bolster the southern forces at the Bentonville battle, leading to Johnston's forces to be outnumbered 3 to 1. However, the arriving southern reinforcements from the western states got to central North Carolina just in time for the Bennett Place surrender in Durham, NC. Imagine how history might have been different if those southern reinforcements came earlier and slowed or stopped stopped Sherman's NC march at the Bentonville battle, and perhaps allowed Jefferson Davis to escape westward.