DURHAM, N.C. – Two hardened war adversaries who later became great friends negotiated the largest troop surrender of the American Civil War at Bennett Farm near Durham Station on April 26, 1865. A re-enactment of one of the war’s last surrenders will be held at Bennett Place State Historic Site on Saturday and Sunday, April 17-18, highlighting a week of free commemorative events for the 145th anniversary of the end of America’s deadliest war, which cost more than 625,000 lives.
“This is hallowed ground, and we should all gather to remember the sacrifices made,” says Bennett Place Site Manager John Guss, who is planning the history and remembrance event, which includes soldiers on horses, music, books and more.
Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Union Major General William T. Sherman had faced off in battlefield commands in Atlanta, Ga., Columbia, S.C., and Bentonville, near Four Oaks, N.C. Yet in the war’s waning days they sought a peace when they first met face to face. The final agreement was a military surrender of nearly 90,000 soldiers that ended the war in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.
Crowds of thousands are expected to enjoy the weekend activity. Re-enactors portraying Gen. Johnston and Maj. Gen. Sherman will arrive on horseback at 10 a.m. at Bennett Place on April 17 and 18 for negotiations, just as it was for the first negotiations145 years ago to the day. They will meet Bennett family re-enactors. Visitors will be allowed into the parlor to witness the negotiations at various times. Other activities will include performances by the Huckleberry Brothers Civil War band, and demonstrations of blacksmithing and of Civil War-era photography, where pictures will be taken for a fee.
Noted Civil War historian Mark Bradley, author of “This Astounding Close: The Road to Bennett Place,” will speak on Sunday. Saturday speakers include Jim Wise talking on his books “Sherman’s Trial” and “Murder in the Courthouse, Reconstruction and Redemption in the North Carolina Piedmont.” Jeff Toalson will speak on his publication, “No Soap, No Pay, Diarrhea, Dysentery, and Desertion: The Last 16 Months of the Confederacy.”
Many other activities will occur during the weekend. Sutlers will sell period-style clothes and tools, as will Seagrove potter Lonnie Blackmon. A stacking of arms and furling of colors by the Army of Tennessee, and a wreath laying at the site’s Unity Monument also are planned for Sunday.
For additional information call (919) 383-4345, e-mail Bennett@ncdcr.gov or visit www.bennettplace.nchistoricsites.org.
Bennett Place State Historic Site is at 4409 Bennett Memorial Road, Durham, NC, 27705. It is within the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.
Manager, Bennett Place State Historic Site
Phone: (919) 383-4345
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