Sunday, March 15

This week in the Civil War: March 15, 1865

Latest Union victory in North Carolina

Days after President Abraham Lincoln began his second term, the Union scored a new victory in fighting in North Carolina 150 years ago in the Civil War. Troops under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and a fellow general collided with a Confederate force led by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston on March 19, 1865. The battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, came as Sherman's army was marching across North Carolina. Johnston attacked. Fierce fighting erupted. The Union counterattacked. Repeated Southern efforts to overrun the federal contingent failed after hours of hard fighting on March 19, 1865, and the combat would drag on two more days before the Confederates retreated. Though Sherman's advance was momentarily slowed by fighting at Bentonville, his forces continued their march across the Carolinas. One newspaper dispatch reported: "Sherman walks over the Carolinas as fearlessly and unconcerned as a giant." And it would only be a matter of weeks before the Union prevailed. The Cleveland Morning Leader signaled Northern morale was running high as it reported March 22, 1865, that some projections put a war-weakened Confederate army now at just over 120,000 troops. "Against this our forces, in the three armies of Grant, Sherman, and Schofield alone, muster more than 250,000 men. Who can doubt the result?"

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