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[540] take position between that village and the road on which the enemy was advancing. An error as to the relative distance which our troops and those of the enemy would have to move, exaggerating the distance between the roads on which the enemy was advancing and diminishing the distance that our troops would have to march, caused the failure to concentrate our troops in time to attack the enemy's left wing while in column; when General Hardee's troops reached Bentonville in the morning, however, the attack was commenced. The battle lasted through the greater part of the day, resulting in the enemy's being driven from two lines of entrenchments, and his taking shelter in a dense wood, where it was impracticable for our troops to preserve their line of battle or to employ the combined strength of the three arms. On the 20th the two wings of the Federal army, numbering, as estimated by General Johnston, upward of seventy thousand, came together and repeatedly attacked a division of our force (Hoke's) which occupied an entrenched position parallel to the road to Averysboro; every attack was handsomely repulsed. On the next day (21st) an attempt by the enemy to reach Bentonville in the rear of our center, and thus cut off our only route of retreat, was gallantly defeated by an impetuous and skillful attack, led by Generals Hardee and Hampton, on the front and both flanks of the enemy's column, by which he was compelled to retreat as rapidly as he had advanced. In this attack General Hardee's only son, a noble boy, charging gallantly with the Eighth Texas Cavalry, fell mortally wounded. On the night of the 21st our troops were withdrawn across Mill Creek, and in the evening of the 22d bivouacked near Smithfield. On the 23d the forces of General Sherman and those of General Schofield were united at Goldsboro, where they remained inactive for upward of two weeks.

On the 9th of April the Confederate forces took up the line of march to Raleigh, and reached that city early in the afternoon of the same day, closely followed by the Federal army.

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