Durham, NC — 150 years ago, the American Civil War came to an end at a small farm on the outskirts of Durham. Here’s what it might have looked like.
Surrender at Bennett Place
The war had gone on for four long years. 600,000 had died. The Confederate succession was in utter ruin. Lee had surrendered and Lincoln was dead.
Jefferson Davis wanted General Joseph Johnston to continue fighting, but Johnston knew The Cause was lost. He surrendered 89,000 troops to Union General William T. Sherman after negotiations on April 16, 18 and 26, 1865.
Sherman treated the defeated soldiers with humanity, earning the (ultimately tragic) respect of Johnston.
Johnston, like Lee, never forgot the magnanimity of the man to whom he surrendered, and would not allow an unkind word to be said about Sherman in his presence. Sherman and Johnston corresponded frequently and they met for friendly dinners in Washington whenever Johnston traveled there. When Sherman died, Johnston served as an honorary pallbearer at his funeral; during the procession in New York City on February 19, 1891, he kept his hat off as a sign of respect in the cold, rainy weather. Someone with concern for the old general’s health asked him to put on his hat, to which Johnston replied “If I were in his place and he were standing here in mine, he would not put on his hat.” He caught a cold that day, which developed into pneumonia, and he died several weeks later in Washington, D.C. – Wikipedia – Joseph E. Johnston
150 Years Later
The air was damp and chilly on April 25, 2015, lending a somber mood to the somber commemoration at Bennett Place.
The field was mostly filled with Union re-enactors. The Confederate troops were encamped in the woods preparing for the surrender of arms.
Sherman and Johnston
James Bennett with Sherman and Johnston.
Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston.
Union General William T. Sherman.
The room where Sherman and Bennett negotiated the surrender.
Descendant of the Bennett Family with re-enactors.
The End of the Civil War
Story and photos by Hal Goodtree. For more information, visit Bennett Place State Historic Site.