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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Newton Grove in Johnston County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Michigan Engineers Original Field Works

 
 
Michigan Engineers Original Field Works Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
1. Michigan Engineers Original Field Works Marker
Inscription. The depression in front of you is the remnant of trenches dug by the 1st Regiment Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. In addition to field works such as trenches, the members of the regiment built bridges, warehouses, and blockhouses. Perhaps most importantly, they were experts at the repair, construction, and even the destruction of roads and railroads. Mustered into United States service on October 29, 1861, they carried weapons to defend themselves, but were generally not used as front line troops.

On March 19, 1865, while on detached service with the 20th Corps, Maj. Gen. Alpheus Williams ordered the 1st Michigan Engineers to be placed here to help extend his defensive line. This was an extraordinary assignment for the Michiganders, who were unaccustomed to being deployed in such a manner. It was during that time that they dug these trenches.

Field works provided exposed infantry with excellent protection from small arms and artillery fire. Troops constructed them quickly, with little supervision from an engineer officer. Using picks, shovels, tin plates, cups, bayonets, and even their hands, soldiers dug on each side of and threw dirt on piles of logs. Head logs might be placed on top, with small openings between the bottoms of the logs and tops of the trenches. These allowed soldiers to discharge their weapons without
Marker on the Bentonville Battlefield image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
2. Marker on the Bentonville Battlefield
exposing their heads to enemy fire.

Unfortunately, natural and man made erosion has destroyed most of the original field works at Bentonville. In order to protect these priceless remnants of the battle, we request that you stay off of them.

The instant our line halted, knapsacks were flung off and the rear rank, supplied with axes and spades, used them with marvelous energy and effect. Small trees were quickly felled, cut into logs and carried to the line, where a ditch was begun and dirt thrown over the logs to form a parapet. In forty minutes from the halt, a line of earthworks had been built from which it would have been a costly effort to dispossess their defenders.
- 22nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantryman William McIntosh, whose unit was next to the 1st Michigan Engineers.
 
Location. 35° 18.355′ N, 78° 19.351′ W. Marker is near Newton Grove, North Carolina, in Johnston County. Marker is on Mill Creek Church Road, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is located on the Bentonville Battlefield. It can be reached via the walking trail from near the visitor center or from the driving tour. Marker is in this post office area: Newton Grove NC 28366, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Naval Stores (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct
Michigan Engineers Original Field Works Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
3. Michigan Engineers Original Field Works Marker
line); Federal Earthworks (approx. 0.2 miles away); North Carolinians at the Battle of Bentonville (approx. mile away); Bentonville Battlefield Driving Tour (approx. mile away); Battle of Bentonville (approx. mile away); Bentonville Battlefield (approx. mile away); North Carolina Monument (approx. 0.3 miles away); Texas (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Newton Grove.
 
More about this marker. A number of photographs and portraits appear on the marker. The left side features a “Circa 1957 image of the trenches, which shows their deterioration 92 years after the battle - North Carolina State Archives, and “Members of Company B, 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics posing on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, 1863 - State Archives of Michigan. The upper right of the marker a photo of “Field works from the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. When first constructed, the works in front of you might have looked very similar to these. - Library of Congress.” Below
Michigan Engineers Original Field Works image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
4. Michigan Engineers Original Field Works
The remains of the trenches built by the 1st Michigan can be seen in this photo.
this are portraits of “Col. John B. Yates, commander of the 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics during the Battle of Bentonville - Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan”, and “Pvt. Elliot F. Moore, 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. Moore was only 18 when he enlisted in 1863 and was not yet 20 by the Battle of Bentonville - State Archive of Michigan.”
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Take a tour of the Roadside Exhibits erected on the Battle of Bentonville.
 
Also see . . .  Bentonville Battlefield. North Carolina Historic Sites website. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 775 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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