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[430] massed on the left flank. In this position Slocum received six distinct assaults from the combined forces of Hoke, Hardee, and Cheatham, under the immediate command of Johnston, without giving an inch of ground, and himself doing good execution on the enemy's ranks, especially with artillery.

The moment Sherman was informed of this attack, he sent back orders to act defensively, until he could arrive with reinforcements. He hoped that Slocum would be able to hold Johnston facing west until Howard came up in the rebel rear from the east; and the Fifteenth corps was turned at once toward Bentonsville, while the Seventeenth was ordered to move direct to Slocum's right.

On the morning of the 20th, the Fifteenth corps closed down on Bentonsville, and struck a line of fresh-made parapet. Howard was therefore ordered to proceed with caution until he effected a junction with Schofield. These developments occupied the entire day. Johnston now took up a position in the form of the letter V, the apex reaching the road leading from Averysboro to Goldsboro. Mill creek, with a single bridge, was in his rear, but his flanks were covered by the endless swamps of the region. His lines embraced the village of Bentonsville. Slocum faced one side of the V, and Howard the other; and Sherman, being uncertain as to Johnston's strength, was disinclined to invite a battle. He had been out from Savannah since the last of January, and his wagons contained but little food. He knew also that Schofield and Terry were approaching Goldsboro from the coast. During the 20th, therefore, he simply held his ground, and started his trains to Kinston for supplies.

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Bentonsville Slocum (4)
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