Today in History:

27 Series I Volume XLVII-I Serial 98 - Columbia Part I


flanks of his position, which were, as usual, covered by the endless swamps of this region of country. I also ordered all empty wagons to be sent at once to Kinston for supplies, and other impediments to be grouped near the Neuse, south of Goldsborough, holding the real army in close contact with the enemy, ready to fight him if he ventured outside his parapets and swampy obstructions.

Thus matters stood about Bentonville on the 21st of March. On the same day General Schofield entered Goldsborough with little or no opposition, and General Terry had got possession of the Neuse River at Cox's Bridge, ten miles above, with a pontoon bridge laid and a brigade across, so that the three armies were in actual connection, and the great object of the campaign was an the 21st a steady rain prevailed, during which General Mower's division, of the Seventeenth Corps, on the extreme right, had worked well to the right around the enemy's flank, and had nearly reached the bridge across Mill Creek, the only line of retreat open to the enemy. Of course there was extreme danger that the enemy would turn on him all his reserves, and, it might be, let go his parapets to overwhelm Mower. Accordingly I ordered at once a general attack by our skirmish line from left to right. Quite a noisy battle ensued, during which General Mower was enabled to regain his connection with his own corps by moving to his left rear. Still he had developed a weakness in the enemy's position of which advantage might have been taken; but that night the enemy retreated on Smithfield, leaving his pickets to fall into our hands, with many dead unburied, and wounded in his field hospitals. At daybreak of the 22nd pursuit was made two miles beyond Mill Creek, but checked by my order. General Johnston had utterly failed in his attempt, and we remained in full possession of the field of battle.

General Slocum reports the losses of the Left Wing about Bentonville at 9 officers and 145 men killed, 51 officers and 816 men wounded, and 3 officers and 223 men missing, taken prisoners by the enemy; total, 1,196. * He buried on the field 167 rebel dead, and took 338 prisoners.

General Howard reports the losses of the Right Wing at 2 officers and 35 men killed, 12 officers and 289 men wounded, and 1 officer and 60 men missing; total, 399. + He also buried 100 rebel dead and took 1,287 prisoners.

The cavalry of Kilpatrick was held in reserve, and lost but few, if any, of which I have no report as yet. Our aggregate loss at Bentonville was 1,595. ++

I am well satisfied that the enemy lost heavily, especially during his assaults on the Left Wing during the afternoon of the 19th; but as I have no data save his dead and wounded left in our hands I prefer to make no comparisons.

Thus, as I have endeavore had completed our march on the 21st, and had full possession of Goldsborough, the real objective, with its two railroads back to the sea-ports of Wilmington and Beaufort, N. C. These were being rapidly repaired by strong working parties directed by Colonel W. W. Wright, of the railroad department. A large amount of supplies had already been brought forward to Kinston, to which place our wagons had been sent to receive them. I therefore directed General Howard and the cavalry to remain at Bentonville during the 22d, to bury the dead and remove the wounded, and on the


*But see revised table, p. 75.

+But see revised table, p. 71.

++But see revised table, p. 76.