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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)
 

Johnston Establishes His Headquarters

 
 
Johnston Establishes His Headquarters image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 17, 2017
1. Johnston Establishes His Headquarters
Inscription. On the eve of the battle, Confederate General Joseph Johnston established his headquarters in the field in front of you on property belonging to John Benton, Bentonville's namesake. Summoned from retirement by Gen. Robert E. Lee only a month before, Johnston commanded a hodgepodge army consisting of the diminished Army of Tennessee, combined with all troops in the Departments of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. Though a large force on paper, in reality Johnston's army at Bentonville consisted of fewer than 20,000 soldiers.

Once one of the Confederacy's brightest stars, Johnston had previously commanded Confederate forces in Virginia, until he was wounded in May 1862 and superseded by Lee. After recovering, Johnston spent most of the war in the Western Theatre, but was dismissed by Pres. Jefferson Davis for retreating from Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman to the gates of Atlanta in July 1864. Johnston's tumultuous relationship with Davis did little to help his career, finally ensuring that he was out of the war effort altogether during a critical time for the Confederacy. It was over Davis's objections that Lee recalled Johnston to command in February 1865.

Johnston had been given orders by Lee to "concentrate forces to drive back Sherman," but "not to engage in battle without a reasonable prospect
General Johnston & Colonel Anderson image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 17, 2017
2. General Johnston & Colonel Anderson
Gen. Joseph Johnston, commander of the Confederate forces at the Battle of Bentonville. (National Archives) - Lt. Col. Archer Anderson served as Assistant Adjutant General on Johnston's small staff.
for success." Johnston's cavalry commander, Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton, presented him with a plan to pounce on Sherman's isolated Left Wing near the village of Bentonville, before the Federals could reach Goldsboro and reinforcements. Johnston moved his army into position blocking the Goldsboro Road on March 18. He surprised but failed to destroy the Federal Left Wing on March 19, and clashed with Sherman's combined army on the following two days.

On March 21, men from the 64th Illinois and other units overran Johnston's headquarters, causing him and his staff to flee on foot toward Mill Creek Bridge. Johnston's personal belongings, including his sash, sword, and private correspondence, along with horses of his staff officers were captured by members of the 39th Ohio and 64th Illinois.

The Twenty-seventh and Thirty-ninth Ohio reached far to the rear of the Confederate Army, to the headquarters of the Confederate Army Commander, General Joseph E. Johnston. Over the door of an old log house, which he had occupied, was nailed the general headquarters sign. The General with his staff and Cavalry Escort stampeded, leaving their horses tied to fences.
—Charles H. Smith, The History of Fuller's Ohio Brigade
 
Location. 35° 20.838′ N, 78° 17.572′ W. Marker is near
Lt. Col. Joseph Reynolds image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 17, 2017
3. Lt. Col. Joseph Reynolds
Lt. Col. Joseph Reynolds was in command of the 64th Illinois during the Battle of Bentonville. (Illinois State Historical Library)
Four Oaks, North Carolina, in Johnston County. Marker is on Westbrook Lowgrounds Road (County Route 1189) 0 miles east of Bentonville Road (Route 1197), on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is located at Auto Tour Stop 7, "Johnston's Headquarters." This tour stop is only 100 yards east of the intersection with the Bentonville Road. 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. Johnston’s Headquarters (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mower’s Charge Reaches Johnston’s Headquarters (about 400 feet away); Village of Bentonville (about 400 feet away); Hardee’s Counterattack (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Village of Bentonville (approx. ¼ mile away); Bentonville (approx. ¼ mile away); Confederate Works (approx. 0.6 miles away); Mill Creek (approx. 0.6 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 February 3, 2017.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Flag of the 64th Illinois Infantry image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 17, 2017
4. Flag of the 64th Illinois Infantry
Regimental flag of the 64th Illinois, one of the regiments that overran Johnston's headquarters on March 21, 1865. (Illinois State Military Museum)
Johnston Establishes His Headquarters image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 17, 2017
5. Johnston Establishes His Headquarters
This view was taken standing at the marker and looking straight out behind it into the field; the direction is looking northward.
Johnston Establishes His Headquarters image. Click for full size.
By Karl Stelly, January 17, 2017
6. Johnston Establishes His Headquarters
This view was taken standing at the marker and looking directly eastward.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 4, 2017. This page originally submitted on February 2, 2017, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 117 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on February 2, 2017, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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