Throughout the years of 2011-2015, the United States has been observing the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, a defining struggle that crippled the South, while bringing the country into the modern era of industrialized war, as sobering a lesson to nineteenth century Americans as the atom bomb would be to twentieth century ones.
April 2015 marks perhaps the most poignant month of this commemoration as the armies of the Union and Confederacy finally faced the ultimate outcome of its four years of carnage in April 1865.
The Battle of Bentonville, just outside of Goldsboro, North Carolina on March 19, 1865 was one of the last major engagements of the war, leading ultimately to the final surrender agreement on April 26, 1865 by Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and his remaining forces with Union General William T. Sherman at Bennett Place near what is now Durham, N.C. This last event marked the true end of the Confederacy, as it was the largest troop surrender of the war.
Thus ended what is sometimes considered to be the final classic struggle of not only two military commanders, Lee and Grant, but two ways of viewing American society as a whole, whether to remain in a slave-holding century, or enter a new one promising freedom to all of its citizens.
For more resources, please visit the Erwin Library’s book exhibit area and consult The American Civil War and Reconstruction bibliography, which contains many links to related periodicals and videos.