Category Archives: Interpretative marker

The Bennett house in Durham, NC – site of the surrender of Joseph E. Johnston to William T. Sherman

The Bennett surrender place

The Bennett House in Durham, NC

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Text from a historical marker:

The Carolinas Campaign began on February 1, 1865, when Union Gen. William T. Sherman led his army north from Savannah, 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’s logistical lifeline, where Sherman defeated Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s last-ditch attack at Bentonville. After Sherman was reinforced at Goldsboro late March, Johnston saw the futility of further resistance and surrendered on April 26, essentially ending the Civil War.

On April 17, 1865, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and Union Gen. William T. Sherman met under a flag of truce midway between their lines on Hillsborough Road, seven miles west of Durham Station, to discuss surrender terms. Johnston suggested that they use this nearby farmhouse—the home of James and Nancy Bennett—for privacy.

Inside the Bennett house, Sherman informed Johnson of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Uncertain of the consequences of this murder, the generals began negotiations, with Sherman offering terms similar to those that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had given Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9. Johnston countered with a plan for “a permanent peace,” including political terms. At their second meeting on April 18, Sherman submitted a “basis for agreement”: disbanding remaining Confederate armies, recognizing existing state governments, establishing federal courts, restoring political and civil right to former Confederates, and general amnesty. Confederate President Jefferson Davis approves the agreement, but U.S. Secretary of War Edwin C. Stanton rejected it summarily. U.S. general-in-chief Grant ordered Sherman to meet again with Johnston and offer him the Appomattox terms.

On April 26, Sherman and Johnston met here for the last time, and Johnston accepted the terms, surrendering the armies under his command including those in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida—some 89,270 Confederates. It was the largest surrender of troops in the war.

The landscape shapes the battlefield

This map of the battlefield (on an interpretative marker on the Eastern Flank) is very helpful for one to orient oneself to the Battle of Franklin. There is so much to appreciate from studying this map. Here are a list of questions any good student of the Battle of Franklin would know, or at least want to know. The map below can answer each question.

  1. How far east-west was the Confederate Army spread out while positioned at Winstead Hill?
  2. Once the CSA Army got to the main Union earthworks, centered at the Cotton Gin, how far east-west was the army spread out then?  Why is this important?
  3. What are the three main arteries the CSA Army traversed to get to ground zero (i.e., the Carter grounds)?
  4. What were the primary obstacles (i.e., man-made and natural) that the Union Army used to defend itself?
  5. What were the ‘high spots’ (natural and man-made) that both sides attempted to leverage?
  6. How far was Fort Granger and her guns from the McGavock farm? From the CSA Army as it approached the Union defensive main line?
  7. How does the landscape and important items noted impact the chances of a successful cavalry flanking maneuver by Forrest?
  8. How and why was the Harpeth River an important advantage to the Union Army?

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Granger gun range.pngBoth images from interpretative markers on the Eastern Flank