Surrender at Bennett Place – A Civil War Historic Site


Bennett Place-1

Durham, North Carolina.

October 2015 saw us visiting or driving through eight states and flying over several others as we drove from our home in North Dakota to the warm, sunny skies of Arizona for the winter. Side trips to the Albuquerque Balloon fiesta, San Diego California, Pittsboro North Carolina, and Suffolk Virginia allowed me to capture several hundred images. Fear not, you won’t have to see them all. I will share my favorites with you as we visit some interesting and historic sites. Over the next few weeks, we touch the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and stop at several places in-between.

The unassuming farmhouse in the opening photo is a reconstruction of a house that once belonged to James and Nancy Bennett. These simple farmers gave up their two sons and a son-in-law to the Civil War. It was in this house that General Johnston of the Confederate Army and Major General Sherman of the Union Army negotiated the terms of the surrender of 89,000 Confederate Troops.

Bennett Place-4

At the simple table in the photo above, the two generals worked out the arrangements that essentially let the 89,000 Confederate soldiers lay down their arms and simply go home fearing no reparations or prison camps for their treasonous act. The original house burned to the ground in the early 1900s, but fortunately there were many sketches of the surrender and even some early photos that allowed historians to reconstruct the house by moving in an almost identical home and reconfiguring the interior to match the sketches and photographs available.

Bennett Place-7

But wait a minute… if you remember your high school history class, you probably have never heard of Bennett Place. You were probably told or read that Appomattox County Courthouse in Virginia is the site of the surrender of General Lee to General Grant. That surrender took place on April 9, 1865. After that surrender, the Confederates still continued to fight. On April 18, 1865, Generals Sherman and Johnston negotiated a surrender agreement which was initially rejected by Washington after the murder of President Lincoln. On April 26, 1865 the generals met again at the Bennett farmstead where a less generous surrender term was presented and signed by both parties. The signing of this document officially ended hostilities in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. The Unity Monument stands near the old homestead and was built in 1923 commemorating the reuniting of the United States. The two columns representing the people of the north and the south are joined at the top by a Unity bridge.

Bennett Place-8

Bennett Place is now a state historic site. Interpretive tours are offered daily for a free-will donation. Our interpreter presented a tour of the home and its separate buildings. During the talk, the story of how the two generals happened to select this unassuming farm home that sat along the road between Durham and Hillsborough. Located in present-day Durham, the historic site is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM. Admission is free but donations are accepted. Details and history of the site can be found at their website here. The gallery of images were taken on the morning of our visit some 150 years after the historic events of this place. Click on one of the images below to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner


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