Welcome to Summer 2023!

Although the official first day of summer isn’t until June 21st, we are already in the swing of the busiest season here at Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site!

Sneak peek of our brand new trail, due to open this fall. Work continues throughout the summer and nearly 5 miles of current trails remain open to explore!

We have had a packed spring with tons of new and exciting projects, read along in this blogpost to catch up on everything that has been happening and see what to expect this summer!

Manager’s Message – June 2023

Growth – the word best used to describe Bentonville Battlefield during these past few months. With summer right around the corner the staff and I are extremely excited about all the new projects, those both starting and nearing completion. New trails, tour stops, interpretation, programs, and community partnerships are but a sampling of the work the staff has been involved with recently.

One of our strongest partnerships to emerge in the last several years is that with the Friends of Mountains to Sea Trail. Thanks to this merging of nature/trails/history the MST has become engrained with the battlefield – taking visitors across fields, through woods, and beside miles of earthworks. On that note, new trails are currently being built at Bentonville! Work on a one-mile extension, funded by the Complete the Trails grant, is already underway. Once completed this extension trail will take visitors to, and around, union earthworks in the “Bull Pen” area of the battlefield. [Editor’s Note: Read more about the new “Bull Pen” trail at the end of this article!]

All are invited to join us on June 28th at 10:00am, for a ribbon cutting at our brand-new tour stop, Flowers’ Crossroads.

Growth has also sprouted on our driving tour. All are invited to join us on June 28th at 10:00am, for a ribbon cutting at our brand-new tour stop, Flowers’ Crossroads. Thanks to the generosity of the Flowers family and the Friends of Bentonville Battlefield, this new tour stop focuses solely on day two of the battlefield, highlighted by the fight for Flowers’ Crossroads.

While new ideas and projects help us ensure the story of Bentonville remains present, we also value preserving and enhancing our foundation – the Harper House. Thanks to countless hours by the NC Preservation Office, division leadership, and a grant from the National Park Service, the Harper House will finally undergo a complete exterior restoration this summer. Years of paint layers, dilapidated shutters, and rotten wood (not original) will be carefully removed and replaced, restoring the home to its original 1855 color and appearance.

The Harper House

All these projects are best summarized by a simple statement – this community, staff, partners, and supporters are all striving to lead from the front as we grow the broad and complex story of Bentonville. A story that cannot be told – only experienced – at North Carolina’s premier Civil War site, Bentonville Battlefield.

-Colby Stevens, Site Manager, Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site

What’s Happening This Summer?

Come see us this summer at Bentonville Battlefield! Walk the trails, explore the driving tour, and see the Harper House. All of your favorite activities are ongoing this summer! To help you explore our miles of walking trails and self-guided driving tour, we have recently unveiled a new map, created in partnership with the Friends of Mountains-to-Sea Trail, take a look at it here and pick one up on your next visit!

Harper House tours will continue as they have, at 10:00, 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00 daily for the low low price of $2 for adults and $1 for children (ages 5-12) and seniors (ages 55+). On special Saturdays this summer, however, we’re opening the house for FREE. Interpreters will be stationed in the house to talk about its stories and provide hands-on activities. These open house Saturdays are impromptu and dependent on visitation and staffing.

In addition to Harper House tours and self-guided activities, we’re implementing new and classic hands-on history opportunities through special programs and touch tables. Some of our touch tables this year include Civil War Pharmacy, Surgeon’s Tools Now and Then, Bullets of Bentonville, Tools of the Historian’s Trade, and more! Touch tables and specialized programs are scheduled Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays this summer throughout the day so come see us to check them out!

Meet our Summer Intern – Cassidy Joyner

Hello! I am Cassidy Joyner and I’ll be interning at the Bentonville Battlefield Historic Site for the next ten weeks.  I am currently working towards my bachelor’s in history from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, but I am a Clayton native through and through! I will be graduating next year and hopefully pursuing my master’s in public history. My largest historical interest is Southern U.S history with a focus on the Black Experience.

Cassidy Joyner somewhere with slightly more terrain than Bentonville

While at Bentonville, I will be working on researching and writing information to create a fuller narrative surrounding the Harpers and the people they enslaved, as well as other free and enslaved people living in Johnston County during this time. Often the stories and experiences of the enslaved are overlooked. My goal with this project and others is to make their stories readily available to the public!

Outside of research and writing, I have a few hobbies. I enjoy going on hikes or walks with my friends, watching documentaries, reading and playing video games. I am so excited to become more familiar with Bentonville and help out for the Summer!

Meet our New Temporary Employee – Rachel McLaughlin

Hi! I’m Rachel McLaughlin and I’ll be a summer temp employee here at Bentonville. Full time, I am a high school English teacher. On the side, I am a graduate student at East Carolina University studying Information and Library Science with a focus on academic libraries and archives. My long term goal is to continue working in local historic sites assisting with preservation, accessibility, and education. I love history and public education!

Rachel McLaughlin

Thank you Mrs. Jane

On May 9th, Mrs. Jane Grantham decided to retire from her temporary employment as a Historic Interpreter with us. Join us in wishing a happy second retirement to Jane, who has worked part-time at Bentonville since 2017. She joined us after a long career at the local telephone company. We will miss you Ms. Jane, please stay in touch.

Mrs. Jane Grantham at the Fall Festival

Don’t miss these Upcoming Events!

Guided Bird Walk – July 1st – 8:30AM-11:00AM

Our popular guided bird walk returns July 1st with volunteer Colleen Bockhahn! For more information and to register visit this Registration Link!

Surgeon’s Call Saturday – July 8th – 10:00-4:00

Learn about medical care during the Civil War and see how the US Army surgeons might have operated at the Harper House field hospital! Get your hands-on history and learn about pharmacy during the Civil War too! The event is FREE.

Heavy Thunder: Artillery and Infantry Program – August 19th – 10:00-4:00

Hear the roar of cannon fire! Learn how cannons were loaded and fired during the Civil War. See how infantry maneuvered in the field. Reenactors will portray infantrymen and artillerymen to show what life was life for a Civil War soldier. Firing demonstrations and historical discussions will occur throughout the day. Concessions will be available, including The DogFather Hot Dog Joint! Learn more here!

Bentonville, Bennett Place, and Beyond: The Civil War’s Conclusion in North Carolina Symposium – September 29th-October 1st

The Friends of Bentonville Battlefield, with the Bennett Place Support Fund are presenting an exciting symposium exploring the Civil War’s Conclusion in NC, visiting Bentonville, Bennett Place, and several sites in and around Raleigh! Learn more at the official website linked here.

Bentonville’s Fall Festival – October 28th – 10:00-4:00

Bring the family and celebrate fall at Bentonville Battlefield! The program will include historic demonstrations, community organizations, and a festival atmosphere featuring wagon rides, old-timey games, an inflatable, food trucks, and more! Historic interpreters will demonstrate daily life during the mid-19th century with demonstrations like woodworking, ropemaking, spinning, pickling, and more. Learn about beekeeping with a display from members of the Johnston County Beekeepers Association. Food trucks will be onsite! $5 adult admission fee. Learn more here!

Trail Update

On June 3rd, the site and FOBB hosted a Trail Work Day, in partnership with the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and Friends of Johnston County Parks. The group focused on a stretch of trail that had been cleared mechanically but needed finishing touches moving debris, clipping roots and raking undergrowth. The first of several work days needed to complete the brand new “Bull Pen” trail, stay tuned for more information on future dates and the long-awaited trail opening!

If you are interested in supporting the new trail through work or through financial donations, reach out to us at friendsofbentonville@gmail.com.

Photos below courtesy of Friends of Mountains-to-Sea Trail depict the Trail Work Day June 3rd.

Thanks for reading along and we can’t wait to see you soon!

Post edited by Colby Lipscomb, Education Coordinator, Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. Content provided by Colby Lipscomb, Colby Stevens, Cassidy Joyner, Rachel McLaughlin, Derrick Brown. For any questions or comments, leave a comment below or reach out to the site at bentonville@ncdcr.gov!

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