“The groans of suffering men … enough to unnerve the strongest men and to start tears from the hardest heart.”
So wrote the Rev. L.W. Earl of the 21st Michigan, about the moans of the injured and dying men at the home of John and Amy Harper in March 1865. The Union Army’s XIV Corps had converted the Harper home had been converted to a field hospital. The Civil War had come to the Harpers’ front door.
On March 18 and 19, visitors to Bentonville Battlefield’s “War So Terrible” will see what that carnage was like during a free daytime program and a ticketed evening medical program.
The daytime program will feature musket and artillery demonstrations and other activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The program will compare Civil War medical care to 21st century care. The 2nd Medical Battalion from Camp Lejeune will demonstrate the advancements in military field medicine.
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The evening medical program, from 7 to 10 p.m. March 18, will offer a rare chance to tour the hospital after dark. During the living history program, the Harper House will be transformed to look as it did during the Battle of Bentonville. Costumed interpreters will lead civilians on a candlelight journey searching for loved ones injured in battle. Visitors will witness re-enactors as surgeons and medical personnel performing amputations and providing other medical care.
The program is not suitable for young children, and parental discretion is advised. Tickets cost $10 and will be available March 18 at the site or by payment over the phone starting at 9 a.m. The number to call is 910-594-0789, Ext. 202. Proceeds will benefit the Friends of Bentonville Battlefield support group.
Author and historian Wade Sokolosky, will speak on North Carolina’s Confederate hospitals at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, involved 80,000 troops and was the last Confederate offensive against Union Gen. William T. Sherman. Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site interprets the battle and the hospital, where many Confederates were left in the aftermath.
The site is located at 5466 Harper House Road, Four Oaks. For more information, go to nchistoricsites.org/bentonvi/bentonvi.htm or call 910-594-0789.