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