|Bennett Place State Historic Site|
|U.S. National Register of Historic Places|
[[image:Template:Location map North Carolina|235px|Bennett Place is located in Template:Location map North Carolina]]
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[[Image:Template:Location map North Carolina|7x7px|link=|alt=]]
|Location:||Jct. of SR 1313 and 1314, Durham, North Carolina|
|Area:||30.5 acres (12.3 ha)|
|Added to NRHP:||February 26, 1970|
History[edit | edit source]
After Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea, he turned north through the Carolinas for the Carolinas Campaign. Confederate President Jefferson Davis met General Joseph E. Johnston in Greensboro, North Carolina, while Sherman had stopped in Raleigh. Johnston sent a courier to the Union troops encamped at Morrisville, with a message to General Sherman offering a meeting between the lines to discuss a truce. Johnston, whose army was still an active fighting force encamped in Greensboro, realized his army could not continue the fight now that Robert E. Lee had surrendered his troops at Appomattox Court House on April 9. Johnston, escorted by a detachment of some 60 troopers of the 5th South Carolina cavalry, traveled east along the Hillsborough Road toward Durham Station, where General Sherman was riding west to meet him with an escort of 200 troopers of the 9th, 13th, and 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. They found the farm of James and Nancy Bennett as the closest and most convenient place for privacy. The first day's discussion was intensified by the telegram Sherman handed to Johnston telling of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. They met the following day, April 18, and signed terms of surrender, which were rejected by the government officials in Washington as more generous than what Grant had given Lee. The two generals met again on April 26, 1865, and signed the final papers of surrender, which disbanded all active Confederate forces in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, totaling 89,270 soldiers, the largest group to surrender during the war.
James and Nancy Bennett were like many families who suffered tremendously during the four years of war. They lost three sons: Lorenzo, who served in the 27th North Carolina, buried in Winchester, Virginia; Alphonzo, who is currently unaccounted for in the family history, and; Robert Duke, husband of Eliza, the daughter. Robert Duke died in a Confederate army hospital and is buried in Lynchburg, Virginia.
The Bennetts never fully recovered from the war, and by 1880, James died and the family moved into the new community of Durham to begin a new life. The Bennett Farm was abandoned and fell into ruin in 1921. In 1923 the Unity monument was dedicated on the site. It was not until 1960 when the Bennett Farm site was fully reclaimed and restored by local preservationists. It was later turned over to the State of North Carolina and made a state historic site.
Largest Surrender of the Civil War[edit | edit source]
The difficulty in reaching a surrender agreement lay in part in Johnston's desire influenced by President Davis, for more than the purely military surrender that Sherman offered. Sherman's original terms matched those offered by Ulysses S. Grant to Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, while Johnston insisted on resolutions of political issues such as the reestablishment of state governments after the war. Sherman, in keeping with Lincoln's stated wishes for a compassionate and forgiving end to the war, agreed on terms of surrender that included the political issues. However, Union officials in Washington, angered over the recent assassination of Lincoln on April 14, turned them down in favor of purely military terms. In response, Jefferson Davis ordered Johnston to disband his infantry and escape with his mounted troops, but Johnston disobeyed his orders and agreed to meet General Sherman again at the Bennett Farm on April 26, 1865. There, the two generals signed new surrender terms, which ended the war for 89,270 soldiers in, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Bennett Place State Historic Site[edit | edit source]
Home of James and Nancy Bennett, simple yeoman farmers, their home served as the site of the surrender negotiations between Major General William T. Sherman and General Joseph E. Johnston April 17, 18, and 26, 1865. It was the largest surrender of the American Civil War officially ending the fighting in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
In 1923, the Unity Monument was placed on this hallowed ground to commemorate this historic event. Among the many contributors to the preservation of this historic landmark were the Duke, Everett, and Morgan families.
Today, Bennett Place State Historic Site is located on the west end of Durham, North Carolina near Duke University. This historic site is open to the public, Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm, with a visitor center, museum, theater presentation, "Dawn of Peace", research library, gift shop, and the reconstruction of the Bennett Farm. Living history programs and the commemoration of the surrender take place throughout the year.
On April 15, 2010, the Bennett Place Historic Site unveiled a new painting by renowned Civil War artist Dan Nance, entitled "The First Meeting". Also on April 15, 2010, the site gave its first William Vatavuk Scholarship, a yearly scholarship for students who wish to major in history in college. The scholarship honors the late William Vatavuk, who wrote Dawn of Peace, the first guidebook for the historic site.
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