Godwin in Cumberland County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Battle of Averasboro
Confederate First Defensive Line
—Carolinas Campaign —
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 at Bennett Place near Durham on April 26, ending the Civil War in the East.
As Gen. William T. Sherman marched north from Fayetteville, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston positioned his army near Smithfield, uncertain whether Sherman's destination was Raleigh or Goldsboro. On March 15, 1865, the head of Sherman's Left Wing struck Confederate Gen. William J. Hardee's skirmishers guarding the road just south of Averasboro. Hardee struck back, and the fight began. After several bloody attacks and counterattacks on March 16, Hardee withdrew during the night,
This is the position of the first Confederate line when the Battle of Averasboro began on the afternoon of March 15, 1865. Col. Alfred M. Rhett's brigade manned the line, with skirmishers in front to engage Union Gen. H. Judson Kilpatrick's advancing cavalry division. The 9th Michigan Cavalry, at the head of Kilpatrick's column, drove the skirmishers back, but reinforcements delayed the Union advance. At nightfall, the Confederates held their ground here, although Rhett was captured. The next day at dawn, about 16,000 Federals under Sherman's direction attacked the 2,800 Confederates on their first and second defensive lines. Under a heavy artillery barrage and frontal and flank assaults, they withdrew under pressure to their third line.
John C. Smith's home, Oak Grove, stood in the line of Union brigades during the fight. Bullets and at least two cannonballs struck the house, which subsequently served as a Union hospital treating the wounded of both sides. It was moved across the highway from its original site in 2006.
Major funding for this project was provided by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, through the Transportation Enhancement Program of the Federal Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century.
Erected by North Carolina Civil
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 35° 15.128′ N, 78° 40.839′ W. Marker is in Godwin, North Carolina, in Cumberland County. Marker is on Burnett Road (State Highway 82) south of West Thornton Road (State Highway 1736), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Located in a small park north of the Oak Grove site along with several other markers related to the Battle of Averasboro. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8713 Burnett Road, Godwin NC 28344, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Rhett’s Brigade (a few steps from this marker); Taliaferro’s Division (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate First Line (within shouting distance of this marker); 20th Corps (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Second Line (approx. 0.2 miles away); Oak Grove (approx. ¼ mile away); Federal Artillery (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Battle of Averasboro (approx. 0.9 miles away).
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 26, 2011, by Lee Hattabaugh of Capshaw, Alabama. This page has been viewed 791 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on April 26, 2011, by Lee Hattabaugh of Capshaw, Alabama. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.