You are facing east towards Green Flower's farm, where lead elements of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's Right Wing clashed with Confederate cavalry late in the morning on March 20.
The previous evening, the Right Wing, comprised of Maj. Gen. O.O. Howard's Army of the Tennessee, had been ordered to the aid of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum's Left Wing. Sherman, traveling with the Right Wing was initially assured by Slocum on March 19, that the Left Wing could handle the limited Confederate opposition in its front. But a series of evermore desperate couriers that evening, beginning with Lt. Joseph Foraker, informed Sherman that Slocum had underestimated the Confederate strength and was in danger of being overwhelmed.
Howard's two corps were on routes parallel with Slocum's. By the time they heard of Slocum's plight, both corps were mostly east of Bentonville and were thus ordered on a circuitous route to approach the battlefield behind Confederate lines. Only William B. Hazen's XV Corps division, marching in the back of the line, was ordered to backtrack to Slocum.
Howard was eager to get troops to the aid of the Left Wing as soon as possible. Two years earlier at Gettysburg, it had been his corps that needed help from Slocum. But Slocum was sluggish in his march to the battlefield, earning the nickhame "Slow
Come." At Bentonville, Howard was determined to show Slocum how to respond quickly.
We very much feared that General Slocum was having a severe battle by the continuous sounds of the artillery firing.
—Maj. Gen. O.O. Howard
The enemy's infantry and artillery is advancing rapidly from the direction of Cox's Bridge...our cavalry is too weak to accomplish much.
—Brig. Gen. E.M. Law to Col. Archer Anderson (Johnston's aide), March 20, 9:50 a.m.
I have formed a dismounted line here very near Flower's house, and can hold the enemy in check till we are flanked out.
—Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler to Gen. Joseph Johnston, March 20, 11:05 a.m.
Brig. Gen. E.M. Law was detailed, on the morning of March 20, to slow Howard's arrival at the battlefield with only Butler's cavalry division at his disposal. Bentonville was the third battle in which Law was forced into division command for his incapacitated commander, this time replacing ill Maj. Gen. M.C. Butler on the morning of March 20. Law alerted General Johnston to the approach of the Right Wing early in the day, and first clashed with the Federals on the Goldsboro Road, a mile west of Cox's Crossroads, where Howard had turned west towards Bentonville.
A six-mile running fight ensued between dismounted Confederate troopers and Maj. Gen.
Charles Wood's division of the XV Corps. By midday Wood's lead brigade had reached Flower's Crossroads behind the main Confederate lines. One of Law's brigades, augmented by troopers from Wheeler's Corps and two infantry regiments from Hagood's Brigade, clashed with the Federals from behind barricades blocking the road. This desperate stand allowed Hoke's Division time to take up defensive lines along Sam Howell Branch to combat the rapid arrival of the Right Wing.
Not for ribbon or rose, or glove, Not for guerdon of lady's love, Rides the knight through swamps and pines, He rides for help for Slocum's lines.
—Excerpt from a poem by H.S. Fullerton about Capt. Joseph Foraker's ride at Bentonville