Raleigh - The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, near modern day Newton Grove, was the largest battle ever fought in North Carolina, and was one of the last engagements of the Civil War.
At the Bentonville Battlefield Historic Site in southern Johnston County, visitors can relive history and learn about what happened during those three days 150 years ago. To help enhance the visitor experience, the N.C. Department of Transportation partnered with the Bentonville Battlefield Historic Site, under the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, to construct three new tour stops along the roads used for the battlefield driving tour. A video about this project is available on YouTube. "We are proud to be able to partner with the Department of Cultural Resources on this important project that will enhance the historic site, as well as improve safety for those who are taking the driving tour," said NCDOT Board of Transportation Member Gus Tulloss, who represents Division Four, which is the six county region including Johnston County. Previously visitors would have to park on the side of the road at stops while taking the driving tour. The new tour stops provide visitors with a place to safely pull off of the road out of the way of traffic. Historical markers and interpretive materials are located at each stop, providing visitors with information about what happened at that location. The new tour stops are located off of Harper House Road, Battlefield Road and Mill Creek Church Road. NCDOT's Division Four administered the $240,000 federally-funded contract for this work, which was awarded to PLT Construction. The department also assisted the historic site with securing the federal funding for the project. "They were providing the funds and we were providing the construction and inspection of the projects," said NCDOT Division Four Engineer Tim Little. "We were very excited to do this project because it is a way to preserve history for the battlefield."
Construction began in December 2014 and was completed in mid-March of this year. The tour stops opened in time for the 150th anniversary reenactment of the battle on March 21 and 22, where thousands of attendees were able to see first-hand what the Battle of Bentonville was like."
The addition of the new tour stops that we are doing now just enhances the site even more," said Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site Manager Donny Taylor. "This opens up more areas of the battlefield that we had not been able to interpret in the past and gives people a more concise history of what was done there," said Bentonville Battlefield Historic Site Manager Donny Taylor.
This was the second time NCDOT constructed tour stops at the battlefield. The first ones were constructed in 2004 and were so successful in giving visitors a safe location to stop and learn more about the battle, that the department was able to partner again with NCDCR to construct three additional tour stops.