The Battle of Averasboro

March 15, 1865 – A small Confederate force dug in near Averasboro and partially blocked the path of Major General William T. Sherman’s advance into North Carolina.

Confederate Lieut Gen William Hardee | Image Credit: Flickr.com

Confederate Lieut Gen William Hardee | Image Credit: Flickr.com

By this date, both the left and right wings of Sherman’s Federal army had crossed the Cape Fear River, moving north to feint against Raleigh before joining Major General John M. Schofield’s Federals at Goldsboro. General William Hardee’s 7,500 Confederates took positions on a ridge between Averasboro and the Cape Fear River. This blocked Sherman’s left wing, consisting of two Federal corps commanded by Major General Henry Slocum. Hardee fended off a Federal cavalry probe, and Slocum’s men camped within eight miles of Averasboro on the night of the 15th.[1]

The next day, Hardee resumed his attacks on probing Federal cavalry under General Judson Kilpatrick. Around 10 a.m., part of Slocum’s XX Corps attacked the Confederates’ right and sent them retreating. The battle threatened to become a Federal rout until the Confederates finally regrouped and formed a defensive line that fended off three charges. When Hardee’s flanks came under threat once more, he withdrew to a third position on high ground behind a swamp.[2]

From their new position, the Confederates withstood repeated attacks throughout the afternoon. As night fell, Hardee learned that Federals were crossing the Black River to turn his left flank. This compelled him to withdraw his Confederates under stormy darkness toward Smithfield. The next day, Hardee issued orders commending his troops for their effort and for “giving the enemy the first check he has received since leaving Atlanta.”[3]

The Federals suffered 682 casualties (95 killed, 533 wounded, and 54 missing), while the Confederates lost about 865. Though neither a major battle nor necessarily a Confederate victory, the engagement at Averasboro gave the Confederates more time to concentrate their forces before Sherman could link with Schofield. It also demonstrated that the Confederates were still capable of resisting the Federal advance into North Carolina.[4]

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  • [1] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011-01-26), Kindle Locations 17256-17296; Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox: The Last Battles (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 69
  • [2] Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox: The Last Battles (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 69; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 652-53; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 452-53
  • [3] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011-01-26), Kindle Locations 17315-17335; Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox: The Last Battles (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 69; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 652-53; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 452-53
  • [4] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011-01-26), Kindle Locations 17315-17335; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 652-53
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3 thoughts on “The Battle of Averasboro

  1. […] Battle of Averasboro occurred in North Carolina, as Federals advancing toward Goldsboro attacked General William J. Hardee’s […]

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  2. […] Battle of Averasboro occurred in North Carolina, as Federals advancing toward Goldsboro attacked General William J. Hardee’s […]

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  3. […] harsh terrain and foul weather, crossed high rivers and deep swamps, and won battles at Kinston, Averasboro, and Bentonville. Federal forces now dominated North […]

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