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

The Battle Shifts East: Fighting on March 21

 
 
The Battle Shifts East: Fighting on March 21 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 16, 2017
1. The Battle Shifts East: Fighting on March 21 Marker
Inscription. You are looking west, toward Sam Howell Branch, where on the morning of March 21, Maj. Gen. O.O. Howard's XV and XVII Corps opposed the Confederate divisions of Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hoke and Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws. The dawn began with a heavy drizzle as Maj. Gen. Francis P. Blair, Jr.'s XVII Corps strengthened its position on the eastern side of Sam Howell Branch. Separating Blair and the Confederate line were 300 yards of swampy land, a small ravine, and a series of manmade obstructions. Under orders from Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman to "avoid a general battle," Howard prevented Blair from launching an assault until 1:30 p.m., when he learned that Maj. Gen. Joseph Mower's division had singlehandedly attacked the Confederate left near Bentonville.

To take pressure off Mower, Howard ordered Blair and portions of Maj. Gen. John A. Logan's XV Corps to advance on the Confederate lines across Sam Howell Branch. A fierce fight between the two sides resulted in Confederate trenches changing hands multiple times throughout the day. The aggressive attacks and counterattacks resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Despite being outnumbered, and fearing that Mower's advance may have cut off their only route of retreat, the Confederates maintained their positions along Sam Howell Branch until the battle's end.

The
Battle Map Detail image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 16, 2017
2. Battle Map Detail
Map by Mark Anderson Moore, from the North Carolina Civil War Atlas: The Old North State at War, Savas Beatie, 2015.
rebels kept up a tremendous fire on us, and seemed determined to retake their line. They drove our men on both left and right of us, but we held our guard for quite a distance, and poured such a galling fire into the rebel flank that they fell back, and our boys rallied and held the ground until dark...

—Pvt. Levi Nelson Green, 9th Iowa

[O]ur men were confident to the last, although they knew their opponent outnumbered them very largely, and were in fact enthusiastic for the fight.
—Gen. L. McLaws, letter to his wife, March 25, 1865

Maj. Gen. Joseph A. Mower's first division of the XVII Corps broke camp around 10:00 a.m. The division was ordered to entrench on the right of Howard's line, overlooking Sam Howell Branch, to protect a ford along the battle line. Before marching into position, Mower asked permission from General Blair, to perform "a little reconnoisance [sic]" of Confederate positions near Bentonville. Making use of a nearly impassable route towards Mill Creek, Mower came upon the weakly-defended Confederate left flank by noon.
 
Location. 35° 19.839′ N, 78° 16.33′ W. Marker is near Four Oaks, North Carolina, in Johnston County. Marker is on Bentonville Road 0.4 miles north of Harper House Road (Route 1008), on the right when traveling
Men of Capt. William Zickerick's Battery image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 16, 2017
3. Men of Capt. William Zickerick's Battery
Oshkosh Public Museum
north. Touch for map. Marker is located at Auto Tour Stop 6, "Sherman's Headquarters.". 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. "Uncle Billy" Comes to Bentonville (a few steps from this marker); Union Line, March 20 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Union Headquarters (approx. 0.3 miles away); Main Union Line (approx. ¾ mile away); Mower’s Attack (approx. 0.8 miles away); Union Line, March 21 (approx. 0.8 miles away); Main Confederate Line (approx. 0.8 miles away); Hardee’s Charge (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Four Oaks.
 
Also see . . .  North Carolina Historic Sites - Bentonville Battlefield. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Office of Archives & History (Submitted on January 29, 2017.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Major General Lafayette McLaws image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 16, 2017
4. Major General Lafayette McLaws
Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws commanded a division in Hardee's Corps. (Library of Congress)
Col. William S. Devane & Major General Frank P. Blair, Jr. image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 16, 2017
5. Col. William S. Devane & Major General Frank P. Blair, Jr.
Col. William S. Devane, commanding Clingman's Brigade, was wounded in the neck on March 21. He was taken to the hospital in Salisbury. Maj. Gen. Frank P. Blair, Jr., Commander, XVII Army Corps. (Library of Congress)
The Battle Shifts East: Fighting on March 21 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 16, 2017
6. The Battle Shifts East: Fighting on March 21 Marker
View of the field from the marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 4, 2017. This page originally submitted on January 28, 2017, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 106 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on January 28, 2017, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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