"In suffering condition"
— Carolinas Campaign —
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 in March, Johnston saw the futility of further resistance and surrendered on April 26, essentially ending the Civil War.* * *
Hoping to deflect Union Gen. William T. Sherman's army from Goldsboro, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston attacked Sherman's Left Wing here on March 19, 1865, after finding it separated from the Right Wing, located several miles southeast. As the fighting intensified, Sherman led the Right Wing here in support. Johnston's forces, vastly outnumbered, withdrew to Smithfield on March 21, and Sherman's army marched to Goldsboro.
This is the John Harper farmhouse, which the Union XIV Corps commandeered for a field hospital on March 19, 1865, during the Battle of Bentonville. Elements of Union Gen. H. Judson Kilpatrick's cavalry, Gen. Alpheus S. William's headquarters, and XX Corps soldiers occupied other parts of the farm. More than 500 Union wounded and 45 Confederate wounded were treated here during the three days of the battle, while approximately ten family members remained in the house upstairs. After the battle, the Union army transported its wounded to Goldsboro, while the 45 Confederates were left in the care of the Harper family. The Harpers buried those who died in the family cemetery nearby. After the war, because of the destruction across the 825-acre property, John Harper and his sons were compelled to work as sharecroppers on a neighboring farm.
"There are forty-five of the wounded of our army at the house of Mr. Harper?.They are in suffering condition for the want of proper supplies and there is no surgeon to attend them. Mr. Harper and family are doing all their means will allow for the sufferers. Their wounds have been dressed and six or eight amputations performed skillfully by the surgeons of the enemy."
- Lt. Col. Jacob W. Griffith, 1st Kentucky Cavalry, March 27, 1865
(Sidebar, lower center)
: John Harper III settled on 200 acres here in southern Johnston County between 1803 and 1808. The family had relocated from Harpers Ferry, Virginia, where his father, John Harper, Sr., had served in the Revolutionary War. After John Harper III died in 1834, his wife, Anna, managed his estate until her death in 1841, when John Harper IV inherited the farm. John IV married Amy Woodard in 1838 and they raised nine children here. About 1855, Harper constructed this two-story farmhouse to replace the house that his father built early in the 1800s.