Bentonville Today

The Harper House

The farm home of John and Amy Harper, built in the late 1850s, played a key role in the Battle of Bentonville, March 19-21, 1865. Occupied by Union troops on the first day of fighting, the house served as a field hospital for Sherman's XIV Army Corps. Over 500 wounded soldiers, including 45 Confederates, were treated at this facility. John, Amy, and seven of their children remained at the home throughout the battle, helping to care for the wounded men. Wounded Confederate soldiers were left behind at the Harper house, many of whom convalesced here for weeks. The house is open for guided tours during normal hours of operation.

You can also visit the Harper family cemetery and monument area on the grounds. 

Explore The Battlefield

There are many ways to see the battlefield today. A 10-mile driving tour encirles the 6,000 acre battlefield. The site also maintains 5 miles of walking trails which wind through trenches and cross fields over which the battle was fought.


Housed within the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site Visitor Center is an exhibit gallery featuring artifacts from the battle, panels decribing the battle and Carolinas Campaign, and a fiber-optic map.

The fiber-optic exhibit covers the first and bloodiest day of action at Bentonville—March 19, 1865. At the press of a button, visitors can see all of the major battlefield maneuvers of both armies unfold before their eyes!

The exhibit (a color topo base map, with red and blue lights for the opposing armies) is accompanied by spoken narration of the action, and dramatic sounds of battle!

Preservation At Bentonville

Bentonville is slowly coming into its own as a nationally significant historic site. Important developments in the 1990s propelled it into the national spotlight. Recent books have brought the history of the Carolinas Campaign and its culminating battle into the public eye as never before, and the battlefield's preservation needs have not gone unnoticed in Washington, D.C.

In 1993 the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, appointed by Congress to evaluate the preservation needs of the nation's Civil War sites, visited Bentonville and was favorably impressed with the battlefield and its miles of extant earthworks. The commission's Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields (1993) classified Bentonville in:

Priority 1: Battlefields With Critical Need for Coordinated Nationwide Action by the Year 2000. 1.1 Class A, good integrity, moderate threats, less than 20 percent of core area protected. (Class A is defined as "having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war.")

Bentonville was ranked sixth on the list of Priority One, Class A battlefields.

Another major step forward was the battlefield's designation as a National Historic Landmark. The application for NHL status was submitted with the aid of the National Park Service, and approved in June 1996 by the United States Department of the Interior. This important new status will enable Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site to apply for federal grants available for purchasing property and easements to protect historically significant land.

Further Reading

Last Stand in the Carolinas: The Battle of Bentonville
by Mark L. Bradley (Savas 1996); 9x6; 608 pp.; 36 maps by M. A. Moore

Moore's Historical Guide to the Battle of Bentonville
by Mark A. Moore (Da Capo Press, 1997); 8½x11; 104 pp.; 36 maps

Bentonville: The Final Battle of Sherman and Johnston
by Nat C. Hughes (UNC 1996); 336 pp.; 9 maps

"Johnston's Last Stand—Bentonville," by Jay Luvaas, North Carolina Historical Review. 33, No. 3 (July 1956) pp. 332-358

Battle of Bentonville
by W. T. Jordan (Broadfoot 1990); 39 pp.

Sherman's March through the Carolinas
by John G. Barrett (UNC 1957); 325 pp.

The Civil War in North Carolina
by John G. Barrett (UNC 1963); 484 pp.

The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman's Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns
by Joseph Glatthaar (New York University Press 1985)

Sherman's March through North Carolina: A Chronology
by Wilson Angley, Jerry L. Cross, and Michael Hill (NCDAH 1996); 129 pp.

Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order by John F. Marszalek (Free Press 1993); 635 pp.

Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography
by Craig L. Symonds (W. W. Norton 1992); 450 pp.