June 20, 2009

Bennett Farm, Where Joe Johnston Surrendered

The American Civil War did not end at Appomattox, although it was the beginning of the end.
historical markers
Farm home of James Bennett, where Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his army to Gen. William T. Sherman, April 26, 1865. Johnston’s surrender followed Lee’s at Appomattox by 17 days and ended the Civil War in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.

See a related marker at HMdb.org: The End of War - Carolinas Campaign

Having recently been to Appomattox, I wanted to visit the Bennett Farm on the outskirts of Durham. Driving there via Lynchburg and Danville, I felt an appreciation for the distance between Lee's army and Johnston's. It was considerable but if Lee had been able to utilize the railroads, he could have quickly joined up with Johnston... except that the Union army got in the way.

The Bennett's reconstructed farmhouse is modest. A visitors center has a worthwhile film and interesting exhibits. I learned that Bennett was also spelled Bennitt at the time of the war. One of their sons left to join the Confederate army and died of disease in a Winchester (Virginia) hospital.

Sherman and Johnston became friends after the war and when Sherman died in 1891, Johnston served as a pallbearer at his funeral.

Note: Bennett Place Historic Site is looking for portraits and information on soldiers who were at (or near) the surrender at Bennett Place. They are preparing an exhibit memorializing soldiers who served in the armies of William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston.

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