1. U.S. Arsenal Historical Marker
Authorized by Congress, 1836. Taken over by Confederacy, 1861. Destroyed March 1865, by Sherman. Ruins stand 2 blocks S.W.
2. Confederate Breastworks Historical Marker
Thrown up early in 1865 to defend Fayetteville from Sherman’s army. Remains are here.
3. Sherman's Army Historical Marker
Invading North Carolina, Sherman’s army occupied Fayetteville, Mar. 11-14, 1865, destroying the Confederate Arsenal, which stood 1 mile W.
4. Oak Grove Historical Marker
Plantation home of John Smith, used as a Confederate hospital during the Battle of Averasboro, March 16, 1865.
5. Battle of Averasboro, Phase One, March 15-16, 1865 Historical Marker
You are standing near the center of the first phase of fighting in the Battle of Averasboro, March 15-16, 1865. On March 15th the left wing of General Sherman’s Union army, commanded by General H. W. Slocum, was advancing along this road from Fayetteville to Averasboro. General H. J. Kilpatrick’s cavalry division was in the lead, skirmishing with General Joseph Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry which contested the Union advance. At 3:00 p.m. the Union forces struck a heavy Confederate skirmish line. General Smith Atkins’ 9th Michigan cavalry drove the skirmishers back into the first of three lines of eastworks erected across the road. The Union cavalry then constructed heavy barricades in front of the Confederate works. At 6:00 p.m. Confederate General W. B. Taliaferro, whose division was holding position, ordered an attack along his line. The Union forces, though hard-pressed, were able to hold their position due to the arrival of reinforcements from the 14th Corps. Nightfall found the two armies in nearly the same positions they had held throughout the afternoon. General W. T. Sherman, Union commander, arrived on the field during the night. At 6:00 a.m. on March 16th, the Union forces attacked Taliaferro’s line, driving the Confederates before them. Then the Southerners launched a desperate counter-attack. A disaster for the Union forces was averted when portions of the 20th Corps arrived upon the field. Three batteries of artillery were placed in the position near the John Smith house. These began firing upon the Confederates, driving them back into their breastworks. At 11:00 A.M. two newly-arrived Union brigades engaged the Confederates in front, while the brigade of Colonel Henry Case assaulted the Confederate right flank. This attack forced the Confederates to withdraw into their second line of works. NOTE: For the remainder of the battle, drive two miles north on this road and read the map-marker on phase two of the battle.
6. Battle of Bentonville March 19- 21, 1865 Historical Marker
At Bentonville, General William T. Sherman’s Union army, advancing from Fayetteville toward Goldsboro, met and battled the Confederate army of General Joseph E. Johnston. General Robert E. Lee had directed the Confederates to make a stand in North Carolina to prevent Sherman from joining General U. S. Grant in front of Lee’s army at Petersburg, Virginia. Johnston had been able to raise nearly 30,000 men from South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and eastern North Carolina. His army included a galaxy of generals: two full generals; fourteen major generals; and many brigadier generals. Ahead of Sherman with his force, he looked for an opportunity to strike. Sherman’s army of 60,000 men was divided into two wings: 30,000 men in the Left Wing marching via Averasboro and Bentonville, and 30,000 men in the Right Wing marching on a parallel route to the southeast. Sherman’s North Carolina objective was Goldsboro, where 40,000 additional troops and fresh supplies would reinforce and nourish his weary army. The three-day battle ended in a stalemate. After an initial success on the first day, the Confederates were unable to destroy the united Federal Left and Right Wings (60,000 men) and on the night of March 21-22 they withdrew. The Union Army, anxious to reach Goldsboro, did not pursue. Troops involved: 85,000 to 90,000 Casualties: Killed Wounded Missing Confederate 239 1,694 673 Union 304 1,112 221 Total 543 2,806 894 Total killed, wounded, and missing: 4,243 The Battle of Bentonville was important because it was: 1) the only major Confederate attempt to stop Sherman after the Battle of Atlanta, August, 1864; 2) the last major Confederate offensive in which the Confederates chose the ground and made the initial attack; and 3) the largest battle ever fought on North Carolina soil. The Harper House, residence in which John and Amy Harper raised their eight children, has been restored on the battleground. This home was used during the battle as a Union hospital and after the battle as a Confederate hospital. In the Confederate Cemetery are buried 360 soldiers. The museum and 6,000-acre battleground are open for tours on a regular schedule.
7. C. M. Stedman 1841-1930 Historical Marker
Last Confederate officer in Congress, 1911-1930; lawyer & lt.-governor. Grave is 2 blks. east.
8. Confederate First Line Historical Marker
Gen. W. B. Taliaferro’s division occupied trenches crossing the road at this point, March 15-16, 1865.
9. Confederate Women's Home Historical Marker
Built in 1915 for the widows and daughters of state’s Confederate veterans. Closed, 1981. Cemetery 300 yds. W.
10. Federal Artillery Historical Marker
From a point 50 yards west three batteries of artillery under Major J. A. Reynolds shelled the Confederate first line of earthworks.
11. Federal Hospital Historical Marker
The 1865 home of Wm. Smith, 100 yds. E., was used as a hospital for Union troops in the Battle of Averasboro, March 15-16, 1865.
12. Prelude to Averasboro Historical Marker
Late in 1864, two large Union armies, one in Virginia and the other in Georgia, were beginning to squeeze the Confederacy to defeat. Grant held Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia immobile at Petersburg, while Sherman, with 60,000 men, captured Atlanta and began the famous March to the Sea. Savannah fell by Christmas, 1864, and mid-January, 1865, Sherman’s invasion of the Carolinas was begun. Columbia was captured on February 17th and Fayetteville on March 11th. After leaving Fayetteville, Sherman sought to confuse General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate forces by making a pretended advance against Raleigh with the left wing of his army. This wing, commanded by General H. W. Slocum, began its march from Fayetteville along Old Stage Road (present U.S. 401) which connected with Raleigh. Some 25 miles above Fayetteville the road branched near the village of Averasboro: one branch continued north to Raleigh, the other ran to the east toward Smithfield and Goldsboro. While Sherman’s left wing moved in the direction of Averasboro, his right wing advanced toward Goldsboro on a parallel road about 20 miles to the east. The Confederates faced a difficult military situation in North Carolina by mid-March, 1865. General Johnston, ordered to stop Sherman, found his small army scattered over a wide area. It would take time to organize the various units into an effective fighting force. The only corps in position to hinder the Union advance was the 6,500 man force under General W. J. Hardee. This corps was ordered to resist Slocum’s advance, thus began the Battle of Averasboro.
13. Rhett's Brigade Historical Marker
The brigade of Colonel A. M. Rhett was repulsed 300 yds. W. on March 16, 1865, by Union troops under Col. Henry Case.
14. Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (FACVB)
The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitor’s Bureau positions Fayetteville and Cumberland County as a destination for conventions, tournaments, and individual travel. We operate a Visitors Center with a drive-through window. We are located just minutes from the heart of downtown. Signs from I-95 provide clear directions to the Visitor Center. Call us for information and help planning your visit to the area or stop by when you arrive for maps, brochures and more. While you’re here you’ll experience our History, Heroes, and Hometown Feeling!
15. Averasboro Battlefield
Relive the Civil War Battle of Averasboro (March 15-16, 1865) as you visit the Battlefield museum, battle grounds, and Confederate cemetery. Also learn about the Smith's, the family that owned the 8,000 acre plantation where the battle was fought. The three plantation houses still stand today.
16. Cross Creek Cemetery
The oldest public cemetery in Fayetteville, containing over 1,100 grave markers is the burial ground of many of the early settlers and locally significant persons in Fayetteville’s history. The first Confederate Monument in North Carolina stands in the military area within the grounds which was erected in 1868. The money to build the monument was raised by local women that sold shares to make a quilt. The quilt was sold for $300, enough to create the monument. The quilt was eventually given to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
17. Fair Oaks House
Fair Oaks was built in 1858 and included an octagonal summerhouse, the old kitchen, servants' quarters, smokehouse, and school house. The house incorporates a Georgian plan with Greek Revival and Italianate elements. Surrounding the house is the original cast iron fence with a beautifully designed gate. During General Sherman's occupation of Fayetteville in 1865, some of the Union troops camped on the grounds of Fair Oaks. A silver tray from the house that was used for target practice by Sherman's troops still remains with the original owner's family today.
18. Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum and Local History Museum
From Native American trails to steamboats and trains, explore the importance of the early trade communities of Cross Creek and Campbellton. This museum outlines the development of the plank road system that connected Fayetteville to other towns throughout North Carolina. African American slave labor was used to build the plank roads. Formerly, the building was home to the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad Company, which opened in Fayetteville in 1879 as a reorganization of the former Western railroad.
19. Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry (F.I.L.I.) Armory and Museum
On August 23, 1793, the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry (F.I.L.I.) was organized after President George Washington enacted the Militia Act. During the Civil War, the F.I.L.I. took over the Fayetteville Arsenal for the Confederate forces. The armory contains historical artifacts, weapons, uniforms, and memorabilia, including the carriage that rode the Marquis de Lafayette during his visit to Fayetteville. The F.I.L.I. is still an active ceremonial unit ans is North Carolina's official historic military command.
20. Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Parade Grounds
Established in the late 18th century, the parade ground was the site where the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry (F.I.L.I.) company met for drill since their formation in 1793. The F.I.L.I. is still North Carolina's official historic military command and ceremonies with current members still take place on these grounds. At this site, Isaac Hammond, the company's fifer and a free black man who served in the Revolutionary War, is buried.
21. Hale House
The Hale House was constructed in 1847 and first owned by one of the journalistic forefathers of Fayetteville, Edward J. Hale. Hale, who came to Fayetteville as a young man, bought the Carolina Observer in 1825 and changed its name to the Fayetteville Observer. He served as publisher of the Observer until 1865 when the press was destroyed by Union General William T. Sherman. The destruction of the press was one of Sherman’s objectives when he came to Fayetteville, citing it as a “rebel newspaper” of great importance.
22. Heritage Square
Our tour guides would love to tell you about Heritage Square! Whether you're looking for a great way to spend an afternoon or a place to bring a bus load of school children, look no further than Heritage Square. Tours must be prearranged, and there is a nominal fee. Remember, Heritage Square is included in the book "Tarheel Ghosts" for a reason...shhh!
23. Long Street Presbyterian Church and Cemetery
The present Long Street Presbyterian Church, built in 1846 on land donated by Duncan McLaughlin in 1850, served as the third church of the Argyle Community, a Scottish hamlet settled in the 1750s. The adjoining cemetery contains over 232 graves (earliest readable marker is 1773, latest is 1932), including Confederate veterans (former congregation members), and memorials honoring military servicemen. During the Civil War the church served as an enlistment center for a volunteer unit, the “Carolina Boys”, comprised of Murdock McRae McLauchlin, the Long Street Academy schoolmaster and selected Captain, along with his pupils, all members of local Presbyterian Church congregations at Long Street, Sandy Grove and China Grove. In 1866, the remains of some 30 Confederate soldiers killed at Monroe's Crossroads (March 10, 1865) were exhumed from the battlefield and reinterred in the church cemetery, where a marker was installed in 1870, by the women of Argyle.
24. Market House
Previously known as the State House, it was here that North Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1789 and chartered the University of North Carolina. In 1831, a fire destroyed downtown Fayetteville, including the State House and the Market House was rebuilt on its site. As a marketplace, various peddlers sold cotton and other agricultural products here. Although not built as a slave market, slaves were sold here over the years until slavery was abolished in 1865. During the Civil War, a skirmish took place around the Market House involving Confederate General Hampton's and Union General Sherman's troops.
25. Monroe's Crossroads Battlefield Site
The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads began at dawn on March 10, 1865 as Confederate cavalry stormed a Union encampment. The Union soldiers awoke to attack and scrambled for their weapons. A notable occurrence was when a Confederate Captain asked a Union soldier dressed only in his undergarments, "Where's General Kilpatrick?" The Union soldier, Kilpatrick himself, replied, "There he goes on that horse." This exchange is now known as "Kilpatrick's Skeedaddle." The Confederates promptly raced after the man on the horse. The battle lasted half a day and closed when Confederate forces were unable to continue offensives against the Union troops.
Only open to groups of 15 people or more.
26. Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex
The primary mission of the Museum of the Cape Fear is to cover nearly four centuries of southeastern North Carolina history. However, for the Civil War enthusiast the museum offers a unique look at the war between the States as it unfolded in the Cape Fear region. The Civil War exhibit gallery offers an excellent collection of arms, tools used by craftsman at the Fayetteville Arsenal. In addition to the artifacts on display, the museum text contains compelling first-hand accounts of the experiences of local citizens during this troubled period. The Museum complex lies on the grounds of the arsenal itself, an antebellum military complex built by the US government throughout the 1830s and 1840s. Originally intended to be an "arsenal of construction", used for manufacturing purposes, it was downgraded to an "arsenal of deposit" for the storage of weapons and equipment. Shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, and with the aid of machinery captured at Harper's Ferry, VA., the Fayetteville Arsenal began producing arms and ammunition for the Confederacy. A testament to its importance lies in its complete destruction by General Sherman's forces in March of 1865. The foundations that remain today, along with the interpretative signage and museum exhibits, serve as a monument to both Fayetteville military heritage, as well as the industrial ingenuity of the fledgling Confederate government.
27. Old Bluff Church and Cemetery
As you face north entering the Old Bluff churchyard and cemetery, you are pointed in the direction in which the lead element of Union General William T. Sherman’s Left Wing advanced on March 14, 1865. Over two days, the wing’s 30,000 officers and men, with their supplies and equipment, passed by in the face of sporadic and increasing Confederate resistance. That resistance culminated in the Battle of Averasboro on March 15–16 and the Battle of Bentonville on March 19–21.
28. The Fayetteville Observer
The Fayetteville Observer, originally launched in 1817, is North Carolina's oldest newspaper that is still currently published. Because of the newspaper’s strong pro-Southern tone, the destruction of the newspaper plant was among Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s objectives when he occupied Fayetteville in March 1865. Edward J. Hale ran the paper until 1865 when he turned the paper over to his sons, who resumed publishing in 1883.
cultural heritage trail
The Fayetteville area answered another call to duty during the Civil War. Nearly one third of all the county’s white men served as Confederates. Slaves from the area were drafted by the Confederacy to do support work while their owners were compensated. Union troops pillaged houses of local residents. Women volunteers assisted physicians in caring for the sick and wounded in local hospitals as well as provided support services at the Arsenal. The entire state of North Carolina began to prepare for the Civil War when President Lincoln called on this area to provide troops to suppress the other southern states. In response to this request, North Carolina formally seceded from the Union on May 20, 1861. Prior to the Civil War, the Fayetteville area already had in place several volunteer militias, including the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry. As one of the first Confederate military moves in North Carolina, the Fayetteville Arsenal was taken without a shot fired by North Carolina troops on April 22, 1861. At the time of take over, the Arsenal contained a number of munitions used by the Confederacy.
On March 10, 1865, Confederate cavalry attacked a large Union encampment later known as the Battle of Monroe's Crossroads. This was part of the infamous Union General Sherman’s Army March to the Sea. At the Battle of Monroe's Crossroads, Confederate cavalry initially claimed victory until the Union Army retaliated and recaptured the camp. Many of the dead from both sides still remain on the battlefield, buried in mass graves or are buried in Long Street Church Cemetery located on Fort Bragg. Sherman arrived in Fayetteville on March 11, 1865. The same day a shooting took place around the Market House between Confederate General Wade Hampton, members of his staff, and a Union cavalry patrol. After the brief skirmish, Hampton fled crossing the Clarendon Bridge over the Cape Fear River, which was later burned. That night, the main body of Sherman’s troops marched in to Fayetteville, and the mayor formally surrendered the town. Sherman’s troops were everywhere. While in Fayetteville Union forces burned several important structures including textile mills and The Fayetteville Observer. Confederate forces had already burned stockpiles of cotton and naval stores to deny the Union enemy the spoils of war. Headquartered in Fayetteville for three days, Sherman gave orders for the Arsenal to be razed when he left on March 14, 1865; he wanted to destroy the last source of military arms for the Confederacy.
The area was physically and economically devastated by these actions. The Battle of Averasboro took place on March 15-16, 1865, between the 30,000 men of General Sherman’s Left Wing and Confederate General Hardee’s 8,000 men. The outnumbered and outgunned Confederates delayed Sherman’s advance from Fayetteville toward Averasboro and Goldsboro, allowing a Confederate consolidation at Bentonville for a major offensive against the Union Army. After holding the Union forces for two days at Averasboro, the Confederates withdrew to Bentonville.
After the war, stones from the ruins of the Fayetteville Arsenal were used in rebuilding a number of new Post-Civil War structures. The foundation of the Arsenal remains and can be seen at the Museum of the Cape Fear.
Trail Mileage: 130 miles
Trail Time to Complete: 4.5 hours (full day trail)
Sites of interest on this trail may be classified in one of three ways: Open to the Public - The site is open to the public for a visit during their operating hours. By Appointment Only - The site is available to visitors anytime by viewing it from the exterior or by calling ahead and making an appointment with its administrators for the site to be opened during your visit. Exterior View Only - The site may only be viewed from the exterior for a visit. Visitors may receive written or audible information about trail sites at the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau through our Customize IT! system.