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Occupation of Smithfield - Smithfield, NC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member xptwo
N 35° 30.700 W 078° 20.845
17S E 740564 N 3933023
Quick Description: This Trails sign is part of the Carolinas Campaign driving tour which follows General Sherman's army from the North Carolina, South Carolina border to west of Durham. This one is located in Smithfield, North Carolina.
Location: North Carolina, United States
Date Posted: 3/6/2013 6:44:17 PM
Waymark Code: WMGH7P
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 5

Long Description:
This marker is located in front of the current Johnson County Courthouse at the intersection of East Market Street and Second Street. The text of the sign gives the history of the short occupation of the town where Sherman heard the news of Lee's surrender:

The Carolinas Campaign began on February 1, 1865, when Union Gen. William T. Sherman led his army north from Savannah, Georgia, after the “March to the Sea.” Sherman's objective was to join Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia to crush Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Scattered Confederate forces consolidated in North Carolina, the Confederacy's logistical lifeline, where Sherman defeated Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's last-ditch attack at Bentonville. After Sherman was reinforced at Goldsboro late in March, Johnston saw the futility of further resistance and surrendered on April 26, essentially ending the Civil War.

This is the Johnston County Courthouse, the third to occupy this site. Here, on the steps of the second courthouse, on April 12, 1865, Union Gen. William T. Sherman announced Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, three days earlier. After some street fighting on April 11, the Confederates withdrew, burning the Neuse River bridge. Elements of the 75th Indiana Infantry were the first to occupy Springfield.

When Sherman arrived, he immediately established his headquarters in the courthouse. At about 5 a.m. the next morning, he received word of Lee’s surrender, and throughout the day he stood at the top of the courthouse steps and gave the news to his men as they marched by. Major Henry Hitchcock, of Sherman’s staff, watched as “brigade after brigade came along our HdQrs and were told the news …. Imagine the billows of tumultuous cheering which rolled along the lines … Meanwhile, band after band … made the little old town echo with music as beautiful as it was patriotic.” The Union army occupied Smithfield for two days before advancing on Raleigh.

“The streets are wide. The walks are nicely shaded by elms and hackberry …. Most of the houses are now deserted. Many of them have long been …. But the glory of Smithfield has departed, and that, too, before the war …. At the court house I noticed the shelves, in the offices, are emptied of their contents on the floor. The archives of Johnson [sic] county lie in confusion amongst the dirt …. The churches are open and the books scattered about the pews. At the graveyard I noticed the graves of a number of rebels, bearing ominous dates – about the time of the Bentonville fight.” - Chaplain John J. Hight, 58th Indiana Infantry
Type of site: Other

212 E. Market Street
Smithfield, NC USA

Admission Charged: No Charge

Website: [Web Link]

Driving Directions:
Follow US Highway 70 into Smithfield. It becomes Market Street. The courthouse is located on the right if you come from Clayton. The sign is on the corner of Second and Market.

Phone Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Post at least one photo of a Civil War related item or scene and post one Civil War Discovery you learned while visiting the waymark. The photo should have the coordinates of where it was taken if significantly different from the waymark's coordinates.
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