Bennett Place


Bennett Place

Infobox_nrhp | name =Bennett Place State Historic Site
nrhp_type =



caption =
location= Durham, NC
area =
built =1789
architect= Unknown
architecture= No Style Listed
added = February 26, 1970
governing_body = State
refnum=70000452 cite web|url=http://www.nr.nps.gov/|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]

Bennett Place, the more well known name for the farmhouse in Durham, North Carolina, owned by James and Nancy Bennett (alternatively Bennitt), was the site of the largest surrender of Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War, on April 26, 1865.

History

After General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea, he turned north through the Carolinas for the Carolinas Campaign. Confederate President Jefferson Davis met General Joseph E. Johnston (who had spent the winter in Hillsborough, North Carolinacite news |title= Minding the museum |url= http://www.chapelhillnews.com/weekend/story/8656.html|publisher="Chapel Hill News" |date=July 25, 2007 |accessdate=2007-07-30 ] ) in Greensboro, North Carolina, while Sherman had stopped in Raleigh. Johnston sent a courier to the Union troops encamped at Morrisville, NC, with a message to General Sherman offering a meeting between the lines to discuss a truce. Johnston, whose army was still an active fighting force encamped in Greensboro, realized his army could not continue the fight now that Robert E. Lee had surrendered his troops at Appomattox. Johnston, escorted by a detachment of the 5th South Carolina cavalry, traveled east along the Hillsborough Road toward Durham Station, where General Sherman was riding west to meet him with an escort of the 9th and 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry. They found the farm of James and Nancy Bennett as the closest and most convenient place for privacy. The first day's discussion, was intensified by the telegram Sherman handed to Johnston telling of the assassination of President Lincoln. They met the following day, April 18th and signed terms of surrender, which were rejected by the government officials in Washington due to General Sherman's more generous offerings than what Grant had given Lee. The two generals met again on April 26, 1865, and signed the final papers of surrender, which disbanded all active Confederate forces in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, totaling 98,270 soldiers. It was the largest and perhaps the most significant.

James and Nancy Bennett were like many families who suffered tremendously during the four years of war. They lost three sons, Lorenzo, who served in the 27th NC buried in Winchester, VA, Alphonzo, who is currently unaccounted for in the family history, and Robert Duke, husband of Eliza, the daughter. Robert Duke died in a Confederate army hospital and is buried in Lynchburg, VA.

The Bennetts never fully recovered from the war, and by 1880, James passed away and the family moved into the new community of Durham to begin a new life. The Bennett Farm was abandoned and fell into ruin in 1921. In 1923 the Unity monument was dedicated on the site. It was not until 1960 when the Bennett Farm site was fully reclaimed and restored by local preservationists. It was later turned over to the State of North Carolina and made a state historic site.

Largest Surrender of the Civil War

The difficulty in reaching an agreement lay in part in Johnston's desire for more than the purely military surrender that Sherman offered. His original terms matched those offered by Ulysses S. Grant to Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, while Johnston insisted on resolutions of political issues such as the reestablishment of state governments after the war. General Sherman, in keeping with Lincoln's stated wishes for a compassionate and forgiving end to the war, agreed on terms of surrender that included the political issues. However, Union officials in Washington, angered over the recent assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, turned them down in favor of purely military terms. In response, Jefferson Davis ordered Johnston to disband his infantry and escape with his mounted troops, but Johnston disobeyed his orders and agreed to meet General Sherman again at the Bennett Farmhouse on April 26, 1865. There they signed the new surrender terms, which ended the war for 89,270 soldiers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Present Day As a Historic Site

Today, Bennett Place State Historic Site is located in Durham, North Carolina. It is open to the public, Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm, with a visitor center, museum, theater presentation, research library, gift shop, and the reconstruction of the Bennett Farm. Living history programs and the commemoration of the surrender take place throughout the year.

Notes

External links

* [http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/bennett/bennett.htm North Carolina Historic Sites: Bennett Place]


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