Bennett Place Showcases School of the Soldier

Bennett Place State Historic Site

How did civilians learn the art of war? Well, not in a classroom. Many long and tedious hours turned green recruits into soldiers. Bennett Place State Historic Site will offer a “School of the Soldier,” program Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29-30, that illustrates the transition.   

Recruits’ lives were turned upside down as they went from sleeping in comfortable beds to sleeping on the cold, hard ground. No longer were they fed wonderful food, but ate raw, rancid bacon with hard crackers.

Learning to be a soldier was complicated. Many didn’t know how to read or write. Loading a musket took several steps and new bugle calls had to be learned to get through the day – “Reveille” at dawn, meal calls, the call to the hospital, “Taps” at day’s end and more.

Visitors will learn how a dog tent got its name, how many steps it takes to load a musket, or why soldiers stand in line to fire the weapon. Civilians will also explain how and what they did to assist loved ones who were fighting far from home.

Each day will include ongoing talks and weapons demonstrations, and a tactical demonstration each afternoon.

On April 26, 1865, the farm of James and Nancy Bennett was the location of the peace negotiations for the largest surrender of the American Civil War. Union Gen. William T. Sherman and Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston met in the Bennett home and reached an agreement which surrendered more than 89,270 Confederate soldiers. The site interprets the history of the surrender that effectively ended the Civil War, and the lives of yeomen farmers such as the Bennetts.

For additional information, please call (919) 383-4345, e-mail: or check out the website at Bennett Place is located at 4409 Bennett Memorial Rd., Durham, N.C. 27705. It is part of the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

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