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

Old Bluff Church

The Muddy Road to Averasboro

 

—Carolinas Campaign —

 
Old Bluff Church Civil War Trail Interpretive Marker image. Click for full size.
By Robert Cole, June 6, 2010
1. Old Bluff Church Civil War Trail Interpretive Marker
Inscription. (Preface):
The Carolinas Campaign began on February 1, 1865, when Union Gen. William T. Sherman led his army north from Savanna, 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 Glodsboro late in March, Johnstone saw the futility of further resistance and surrendered on April 26, essentially ending the Civil War.
* * *
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, Hardee withdrew during the night of March 16, and Sherman turned toward Goldsboro.

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.
Carolinas Campaign Description image. Click for full size.
By Robert Cole, June 6, 2010
2. Carolinas Campaign Description
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-mil 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 were not trampled under by the moving column and buried alive."

(Sidebar 1):
Scottish immigrants formed the first congregation here in 1758. A century later, this church
Battle of Averasboro image. Click for full size.
By Robert Cole, June 6, 2010
3. Battle of Averasboro
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.

(Sidebar 2):
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.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
 
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. Touch for map. Marker is located immediately outside the Old Bluff church cemetery gates. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4150 Old Bluff Church Road, Wade NC 28395, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 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
Jane Smith image. Click for full size.
By Robert Cole, June 6, 2010
4. Jane Smith
(approx. 0.8 miles away); David M. Williams (approx. 3.4 miles away); Battle of Averasboro (approx. 4.2 miles away but has been reported missing); 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). 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.) 
 
Categories. Churches, Etc.War, US Civil
 
Old Bluff Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
5. Old Bluff Church Marker
The Old Bluff Church Cemetery can be seen beyond the marker.
Old Bluff Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
6. Old Bluff Church Marker
Gen. William T. Sherman, USA image. Click for full size.
By Robert Cole, June 6, 2010
7. Gen. William T. Sherman, USA
Grave of Janie Smith image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 3, 2010
8. Grave of Janie Smith
As stated on the marker, Jane "Janie" Smith, the teenager who documented her family's experiences during the Battle of Averasboro, is buried in the Old Bluff Cemetery. Her gravestone is within sight of the marker.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 6, 2010, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This page has been viewed 1,115 times since then and 40 times this year. 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 North Arlington, 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 North Arlington, New Jersey. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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