Monument to Union soldiers is good idea

March 20, 2013 

The South has not enthusiastically embraced the idea of monuments for Union soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War. It wasn’t that long ago, in fact, that some public schools referred to the Civil War as the "War Between the States.” State Capitol grounds, including North Carolina’s, tend to include multiple monuments for Confederates.

So it is rewarding to see that a monument to the Union troops who fought at Bentonville in March of 1865, weeks before Robert E. Lee would surrender his Army, has now been established there. This is the first Union monument on state-owned soil.

Some 80,000 troops, 60,000 Union and 21,000 Confederate, fought in the three-day battle. Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s forces suffered over 2,500 casualties and the army of Gen. William T. Sherman had over 1,500. The Confederates ultimately withdrew, and Johnston surrendered to Sherman within weeks at Bennett Place near Durham.

Bentonville represents in the view of many Civil War historians the last major battle of the war, and Johnston’s surrender followed that of Lee.

At Bentonville, courageous troops, most of them ordinary people weary of a long struggle and long-since ready to return to their homes, carried on and suffered horrible wounds and lost their lives in the name of their respective causes. No matter which uniform they wore, that is deserving of respect.

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