On April 26, 1865, the largest troop surrender of the Civil War took place on farm of James and Nancy Bennitt in what was then Orange County.
Ten days earlier two worn adversaries, Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, along with their escorts, rode out to meet and negotiate the terms for the surrender. By chance, the Bennitt farm was located halfway between the Union forces positioned in Raleigh and the Confederate forces encamped in and around Greensboro.
The two generals asked permission to use the farmhouse to conduct their meeting. The Bennitt family, already touched by the war with the loss of both of their sons and a son-in-law, retreated to the separate kitchen building to allow the generals to use the house.
After several days of negotiations, which were complicated by the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Johnston surrendered his army. Johnston’s forces included all Confederate troops in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, nearly 90,000 soldiers in all. The mustering out of the Confederate army took place in Greensboro in early May, where paroles were issued to the soldiers.
Bennett Place became a State Historic Site in 1961.
Visit: Bennett Place will commemorate the 150th anniversary of this historic event today with re-enactments of the surrender negotiations and a stacking of the arms.
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