Despite the tide of war turning against them and being hopelessly outnumbered in every battle, the hungry and ragged American soldiers fought on in North Carolina, bravely trying to destroy the Northern invaders. They fought to protect their families, homes and State; their enemies fought for bounties, looting and conquest.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Six Thousand Against Twenty Thousand!
“At Monroe’s Farm . . . General Wade Hampton and his Confederate cavalry caught Judson Kilpatrick with his pants down — in fact, without any pants — in a sudden surprise attack during the early dawn of March 11 . Had the famished Confederates not stopped to loot the Yankee camp of food, they might have gained a signal victory that day.
Many of the Confederates killed in that fight were boys — the seed corn of the Confederacy, as Governor Vance called them. They died then, those boys, many calling for their mothers. Their mangled bodies lie in a mass grave in old Longstreet Church Cemetery, now a part of the Fort Bragg [military] Reservation.
On through Fayetteville, across the Cape Fear River and up toward Averasboro went [General Joseph E.] Johnston’s little army of hungry, ragged men. Only a few days before an order had been issued than none would be excused from duty merely because he had no shoes! And this was March, and it was cold and it rained — Lord, it rained all the time.
So they slogged through the mud and the mire and ate parched corn, pickled pork, roots, grub worms — anything they could chew and swallow. It was at the time when Johnston’s chief surgeon stated he didn’t believe there was a sound set of guts in the entire Confederate Army.
The route of Johnston’s retreat could be followed by following the trail of dysentery-ridden soldiers left in houses along the way. These, then, were the 6,000 men of General Hardee’s Corps, composed principally of South Carolinians, who placed themselves across that 3-1/2 mile stretch of land between the Cape Fear River and Black Rivers — 4 miles south of old Averasboro. Their job? Lick the Yankees!
Over in the Black River Swamp the Confederates had charged the Yankee position . . . The charge was intended to turn the Federal right and neatly cul-de-sac the whole Yankee Army against the Cape Fear River and destroy it. Six thousand against twenty thousand!”
(They Passed This Way, Malcolm Fowler, Friends of Harnett County Library, 1955, pp. 95-96)