Near Wade in Cumberland County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Old Bluff Church
The Muddy Road to Averasboro
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 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.
This is the entrance to the Old Bluff Church churchyard and cemetery. You are facing north, in the direction in which the lead element of Union Gen. William T. Sherman's Left Wing advanced on March 14, 1865. For the next two days, the wing's 30,000 officers and men, with their supplies and equipment, passed by here in the face of sporadic and increasing Confederate resistance. That resistance culminated in the Battle of Averasboro on March 15-16 and the Battle of Bentonville on March 19-21.
Early on March 15, half a mile north along the Fayetteville-Raleigh Stage Road, Confederate cavalrymen skirmished with the Union vanguard at Silver Run Creek and Mill Pond. Later, Sherman established temporary headquarters there. The rainy weather that week made the roadway nearly impassible and the soldiers miserable.
Despite the terrible weather, at nightfall on March 15, Union Col. William Hawley's brigade prepared for a hot meal and a night's rest here at Bluff Church after working all day corduroying the road. At 7:30 p.m., however, the brigade was called forward to assist the Union cavalry, which was halted and engaged, as the Battle of Averasboro began. One of the soldiers described the seven-mile trek to the battle site: "Men had their shoes sucked off by the mud, while others stumbled, lost their guns, and were thankful that they
Scottish immigrants formed the first congregation here in 1758. A century later, this church building was constructed, and it remained in use until 1908. The present-day Bluff Presbyterian Church congregation, located in nearby Wade, maintains the old church.
Jane "Janie" Smith (1846-1882) is buried in the family plot here in the church cemetery. The daughter of Farquhard Smith of Lebanon Plantation, which served as a hospital during the Battle of Averasboro, the teenaged girl wrote a detailed and graphic description of the battle and her family's involvement.
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & Religion • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1758.
Location. 35° 11.074′ N, 78° 43.419′ W. Marker is near Wade, North Carolina, in Cumberland County. Marker is on Old Bluff Church Road, one mile west of Sisk Culbreth Road, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located immediately outside the Old Bluff church cemetery gates. Touch for map. Marker is at or Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Colonel Alexander McAllister (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Old Bluff Church (approx. 0.8 miles away); David M. Williams (approx. 3.4 miles away); Prelude to Averasboro (approx. 4.2 miles away); Federal Hospital (approx. 4.2 miles away); Federal Artillery (approx. 4.9 miles away); "Oak Grove" (approx. 5 miles away); 20th Corps (approx. 5.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wade.
Also see . . . Battle of Aversasboro. Photos and description of battle. (Submitted on June 6, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 27, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 6, 2010. This page has been viewed 1,346 times since then and 55 times this year. Last updated on November 26, 2020, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 6, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 5, 6. submitted on August 3, 2010, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. 7. submitted on June 6, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 8. submitted on August 3, 2010, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.