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Four Oaks in Johnston County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Confederate Line of March
“ … on this wretched road … ”

— Carolinas Campaign —
 
Confederate Line of March Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2006
1. Confederate Line of March Marker
 
Inscription.
(Preface): The Carolinas Campaign began on February 1, 1865, when Union Gen. William T. Sherman led his army north from Savannah, Georgia, after the “March to the Sea.” Sherman's objective was to join Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia to crush Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Scattered Confederate forces consolidated in North Carolina, the Confederacy's logistical lifeline, where Sherman defeated Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's last-ditch attack at Bentonville. After Sherman was reinforced at Goldsboro late in March, Johnston saw the futility of further resistance and surrendered on April 26, essentially ending the Civil War.
* * *
Hoping to deflect Union Gen. William T. Sherman's army from Goldsboro, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston attacked Sherman's Left Wing here on March 19, 1865, after finding it separated from the Right Wing, located several miles southeast. As the fighting intensified, Sherman led the Right Wing here in support. Johnston's forces, vastly outnumbered, withdrew to Smithfield on March 21, and Sherman's army marched to Goldsboro.

“I am so weather beaten in the face, shabby in clothing and … begrimed with smoke. On the march we often do not get a chance to wash our faces and for two days together, and the smoky atmosphere of the camp, when we halt
 
Confederate Line of March Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
2. Confederate Line of March Marker
 
at night, makes us look like the Yankee prisoners in the ‘bullpen.’”
- William Johnson, 1st South Carolina Artillery

This is the Bentonville-Smithfield Road, the main corridor that Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s army followed as it deployed south to Bentonville to strike Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s Left Wing on March 19, 1865. Confederate reinforcements from Cheatham’s Corp in Smithfield also used the road to march to Bentonville on March 21, 1865. During the Confederate retreat to Smithfield on March 22, Gen. William J. Hardee reported to Johnston a tedious march “on this wretched road, which I have been working on and pulling wagons through all the morning …. The road I am on is the road you traveled from Smithfield to Bentonville …. The wagons on this road must go forward, as they can’t be turned back.” Johnston’s army, exhausted form the three-day Battle of Bentonville, took a much-needed rest along the road on the evening of March 22 before it arrived in Smithfield.

“It was a real treat that we were permitted to-day to wash up and put on clean clothes.” - Capt. Bromfield Ridley, Gen. A.P. Stewart’s staff
 
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location.
 
Marker on on Devil's Racetrack Road Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
3. Marker on on Devil's Racetrack Road
 
35° 24.7′ N, 78° 21.682′ W. Marker is in Four Oaks, North Carolina, in Johnston County. Marker is at the intersection of Devil's Racetrack Road (North Carolina Route 1009) and Stewart Road (North Carolina Route 1179), on the left when traveling north on Devil's Racetrack Road. Click for map. Marker is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Devil's Racetrack Road and Stewart Road. Marker is in this post office area: Four Oaks NC 27524, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Federal Line of March (approx. 4.2 miles away); Hannah’s Creek Bridge (approx. 4.2 miles away); Mill Creek (approx. 5.3 miles away); Confederate Works (approx. 5.4 miles away); Bentonville (approx. 5.7 miles away); Village of Bentonville (approx. 5.7 miles away); a different marker also named Village of Bentonville (approx. 5.9 miles away); Mower’s Charge Reaches Johnston’s Headquarters (approx. 5.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Four Oaks.
 
More about this marker. The upper right of the marker features photographs of Generals William J. Hardee and Joseph E. Johnston, both courtesy of the Library of Congress. A map showing troop movements from Bentonville to Smithfield and indicating the location of the marker appears on the lower right of the marker.
 
War-time Map from Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2006
4. War-time Map from Marker
The location of the marker is indicated on this map of troop movements from Bentonville to Smithfield.
 

 
Also see . . .  Civil War Traveler. North Carolina Civil War Trails. (Submitted on December 26, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on December 26, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,085 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on December 26, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   2, 3. submitted on August 3, 2010, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   4. submitted on December 26, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.
 
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