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Bentonville in Johnston County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Hardee’s Counterattack

 
 
Hardee’s Counterattack image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2006
1. Hardee’s Counterattack
This marker is one in a series that was erected on the Battle of Bentonville for the 140th anniversary of the battle, on March 14, 2005.
Inscription. To your front and left, Confederate forces counterattacked Union forces under Maj. Gen. Joseph Mower on three sides. Leading a counterattack to protect the vital Mill Creek bridge – the only avenue of retreat for Johnston’s army – Gen. William Hardee along with Confederate cavalry commanders Wheeler, Hampton, and Allen bought precious time. With the support of Cumming’s infantry, they stopped and threw back two veteran brigades of Sherman’s boldest division. When Hardee made his way back from the counterattack, Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton recalled that Hardee’s face was “bright with the light of battle…He turned to me and exclaimed: ‘That was Nip and Tuck, and for a time I thought Tuck had it.’” The assault on March 21 came at a high personal cost to General Hardee. His only son, Willie, was mortally wounded during his charge with Terry’s Texas Rangers, a unit he joined only that morning.

Expecting another attack, the Confederates extended their lines from the Cole plantation to Mill Creek, and General Johnston continued to brace the Confederate left flank (here) with every available man. Surrounded by Union forces on three sides and no longer holding the advantage of surprise, Johnston led his army on a retreat to Smithfield, thus ending the Battle of Bentonville. Under sporadic artillery and small arms fire,
Marker on the Bentonville Battlefield image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
2. Marker on the Bentonville Battlefield
the Confederates began crossing Mill Creek bridge on the rainy night of March 21. At dawn, Wheeler’s troopers ripped the flooring from the bridge, but Union forces pursued the retreating Confederates as far as Hannah’s Creek (two miles north) before giving up the chase. Content to let Johnston’s army escape, Sherman continued his march to Goldsboro on March 22.

Only sixteen years old, Willie Hardee had joined Terry’s Rangers despite his father’s reluctance. General Hardee directed that his wounded son be transported to Hillsborough. There his wife and daughter were staying with his niece, Susannah Hardee Kirkland, the wife of Brig. Gen. William W. Kirkland. Willie died on March 24 and was buried at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Hillsborough. Before the war, O.O. Howard had tutored Willie Hardee; at Bentonville, Howard was the Federal Right Wing commander.

“We fell back to the edge of a field, where we met General Johnston…We gave him three cheers. He raised his hat and spoke some words that I failed to catch, but some that were nearer him said he told Col. Henderson to compliment the brigade for him; that they had saved the army. That set us on fire again, and we would have charged Old Nick himself if Joe Johnston as ordered us to.”
M.J. Davis, Cumming’s Brigade.

“I think I made a mistake there, and should rapidly have followed
Mower's Charge Tour Stop image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
3. Mower's Charge Tour Stop
Several markers are at this tour stop. The Hardee’s Counterattack marker can be seen in the left background.
Mower’s lead with the whole of the right wing, which would have brought on a general battle, and it could not have resulted other than successfully to us, by reason of our vastly superior numbers.”

- Gen. William T. Sherman

Mill Creek near the village of Bentonville was described by a Confederate private during the battle as “a deep creek which runs close to the little town of Bentonville, and owing to the recent rains, is very much swollen, and not fordable any where; therefore it is very important for us to hold the bridge.”
 
Erected 2005 by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
 
Location. 35° 20.791′ N, 78° 17.632′ W. Marker is in Bentonville, North Carolina, in Johnston County. Marker is at the intersection of Westbrook Lowgrounds Road (County Route 1198) and Bentonville Road (County Route 1197), on the right when traveling east on Westbrook Lowgrounds Road. Click for map. 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 walking distance of this marker. Mower’s Charge Reaches Johnston’s Headquarters (a few steps from this marker); Village of Bentonville (a few steps from this marker); Johnston’s Headquarters (a few
Confederate Mass Grave image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2006
4. Confederate Mass Grave
Many of the Confederates who fell in the Battle of Bentonville, including Col. Richard Saffell, were buried in this mass grave located near the Bentonville Battlefield Visitors Center.
steps from this marker); a different marker also named Village of Bentonville (approx. ¼ mile away); Bentonville (approx. ¼ mile away); Confederate Works (approx. half a mile away); Mill Creek (approx. 0.6 miles away); Hardee’s Charge (approx. ¾ mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Bentonville.
 
More about this marker. The top section of the marker contains a photo of “Confederate Col. Richard Saffell, 26th Tennessee, killed during the counterattack and buried in the mass grave near the visitor center” (from University of Tennessee), and of “Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, commander of Wheeler’s Corps, Army of Tennessee” (from National Archives). The bottom section of the marker contains Hardee’s Attack Battle map, a photo of “Members of Terry’s Texas Rangers” (from Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and another of “Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee, commander of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida” (from Library of Congress).
 
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 for the 140th anniversary of the battle, on March 14, 2005.
 
Also see . . .
1. Bentonville Battlefield. North Carolina Historic Sites website. (Submitted on March 1, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

2. Roadside Exhibits at Bentonville. (Submitted on March 1, 2008, 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 1,670 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   2, 3. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   4. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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