The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, near modern-day Newton Grove, was the largest battle ever fought in North Carolina and was among the last engagements of the Civil War. At Bentonville Battlefield Historic Site in southern Johnston County, visitors can relive history and learn about what happened during those three days 150 years ago.
To help enhance the visitor experience, the N.C. Department of Transportation partnered with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources to construct three new tour stops along the roads used for the battlefield driving tour. A video about this project is online at youtube.com/watch?v=ExYwKb_Ar6w.
“We are proud to be able to partner with the Department of Cultural Resources on this important project that will enhance the historic site (and) improve safety for those who are taking the driving tour,” said N.C. Board of Transportation member Gus Tulloss.
Previously, visitors would have to park on the side of the road at stops. The new tour stops provide visitors with a place to safely pull off of the road, out of the way of traffic. Historical markers and interpretive materials are located at each stop, providing visitors with information about what happened at that location. The new tour stops are located off of Harper House Road, Battlefield Road and Mill Creek Church Road.
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The DOT administered the $240,000 federally-funded contract for the work, done by PLT Construction. The department also helped the historic site secure the federal funding for the project.
“They were providing the funds, and we were providing the construction and inspection of the projects,” said DOT engineer Tim Little. “We were very excited to do this project because it is a way to preserve history for the battlefield.”
Construction began in December 2014 and was completed in mid-March of this year.
The tour stops opened in time for the 150th anniversary reenactment of the battle on March 21 and 22.
“The addition of the new tour stops ... just enhances the site even more,” said Donny Taylor, manager of Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. “This opens up more areas of the battlefield that we had not been able to interpret in the past and gives people a more concise history of what was done there.”