A Soldier's General
—Carolinas Campaign —
General Johnston's Military Career
Named after Captain Joseph Eggleston, under whom his father Peter Johnston served in Lighthorse Harry Lee's Legion during the Revolutionary War, General Joseph Eggleston Johnston was born February 3, 1807 near Farmville, Virginia. He married Lydia McLane.
Johnston attended West Point Military Academy and graduated in 1829 along with Robert E. Lee. General Johnston was the highest ranking officer in the Union army to join the Confederate army.
Johnston was involved in combat in the Seminole War in Florida and the Mexican-American War in Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec, Mexico. He was the highest ranking officer at the Battle of First Manassas. Wounded at the Seven Pines Battle, he was replaced by General Robert E. Lee. General Johnston commanded the Department of the West, CSA (December 4, 1862 - December 1863), the Army of Tennessee, CSA (December 27, 1863 - July 18, 1864), and the Army of Tennessee and Department of Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, CSA (February 23 - April 26, 1865). Following the Battle of Bentonville and learning of General Lee's surrender in Virginia, General Johnston surrendered the Confederate forces under his command on April 26, 1865. General Johnston died March 21, 1891 and is buried at Greenmount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.
E. Johnston Statue
Before you is a memorial to the Confederate soldiers and their commander, General Joseph Eggleston Johnston, who fought on this battlefield March 19-21, 1865. From the parking lot to the statue is the Confederate Soldiers' Walk of Honor. The names of the Confederate soldiers who fought in this battle are inscribed on red bricks. The first red bricks on the right with crosses are inscribed with the names of the soldiers who died in the battle, but whose grave markers read, "UNKNOWN CONFEDERATE SOLDIER, DIED OF WOUNDS, BATTLE OF BENTONVILLE 1865."
John and Amy Harper, who lived in the Harper House, cared for the graves of these soldiers into the 1890s. The graves are across the field to the left where the pine trees and monuments are located. The names of soldiers who served elsewhere during the War are inscribed on the gray bricks.
The land for this site was generously donated to the Sons of Confederate Veterans by Lawrence R. Laboda, who has created memorials to the horses that served both the Confederacy and the Union during the War Between the States, 1861-1865, as well as the 123rd New York Regiment. These memorials can be found to the right of the General Johnston statue.
Historic Hastings House
NC Civil War Trails Sign, 200 South Front Street, Smithfield
Built in 1854, the Hastings
House served as the headquarters for Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston in mid-March 1865. From there, Johnston ordered the concentration of forces and March 19 attack at Bentonville.
Johnston returned to the Hastings House after the battle, resting his battered army. Day-to-day dispatches from General Johnston to General Robert E. Lee, pinpointing his location to the day, hour, and often minute, placed General Johnston in Smithfield several days before he proceeded to Bentonville to engage Sherman's army in the three days of battle. Johnston had been moving from Fayetteville, by way of Raleigh, to Smithfield. His first dispatch to Lee read, "Headquarters, Smithfield, March 17, 1865, 10:30 a.am." Johnston's March 18 dispatch to Lee was also datelined Smithfield.
General Johnston departed Smithfield to join General Wade Hampton, who had been moving up from Fayetteville and was camped near Bentonville, in comtemplation of battle. Following the three-day battle at Bentonville, Johnston camped south of the Neuse River near Smithfield, but resumed his headquarters in the town on March 25. From Smithfield, he continued his dispatches to Lee, passing along information about his own and enemy troop movement.
Occupation of Smithfield
NC Civil War Trails Sign
Corner of Second and Market Streets, Smithfield
withdrew from Smithfield April 11, and the town was soon occupied by Union infantry. General William T. Sherman established his headquarters at the courthouse, announcing Lee's surrender from its steps.