Stop 44: Battle of Averasboro, Phase One, March 15-16, 1865 Historical Marker
NC 82 north of Godwin (Ross West Road at William Smith House), N 34°59.808, W 78°49.684
Godwin, NC 28344
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.