Averasboro Living History - NC

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Living History - Averasboro Battlefield
Mar 20-21, 1999

by Pvt. Tom Prisk

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On March 20th and 21st, 1999, the Averasboro Battlefield Commission sponsored a Living History on land it recently purchased (this land is on a portion of the actual 1865 battlefield). Members of the 26th Infantry Regiment and Pvt. Tom Prisk (representative from Reilly's Battery, 1st Reg't N.C. Artillery) participated in the Living History.  Below is a little history of the battle and some of the highlights of the Living History event.

The Living History camp was located at Chicora Cemetery near Averasboro, in Harnett County, North Carolina - a Confederate cemetery where some 57 unknown Confederate soldiers are buried. A few monuments dedicated to North and South Carolina soldiers who fought here help mark the site.

The actual battle took place on March 15th and 16th, 1865, resulting in 477 Union and approximately 500 Confederate casualties. The Chicora Cemetery is located in an area where part of the third and final Confederate defensive lines were established. It was here that the Confederates tried to slow the advance of Union General W. T. Sherman's left wing. The Confederate forces under General Hardee were successful in preventing the Union advance that day, with the Confederates and Yankees disengaging around 8:30 at night.

The Battle of Averasboro accomplished two objectives for General Joe Johnston and the Confederate Army. First, Johnston deduced that Goldsboro was Sherman's next objective, not Raleigh. And second, the two wings of Sherman's army became separated by about two to three miles. Johnston would take advantage of this information in an attempt to harm Sherman at Bentonville.

Our 6-pounder and crew participated in four demonstration firings during the two days of the event. With infantrymen pressed into the roll of canoneers, a brief talk and firing demonstration was held for each group of spectators. A presentation of the different types of Civil War era cannons and ammunition was given, followed by the duties of the various canoneers (to include loading and firing procedures). The presentation culminated in the firing of a single round of "solid shot", followed by "double canister". People like noise and smoke.

In attendance at the first firing on Saturday was a Civil War tour group headed by National Park Historian Ed Bearss and Mark Bradley (author of "Last Stand in the Carolinas: The Battle of Bentonville"). Ed asked us some questions about ranges, powder charges, etc., all of which were answered to his satisfaction. The 26th personnel were also fortunate enough to hear Ed and Mark's presentation to their tour group. The talk was very informative and included some excellent maps.

By my guesstimate, there were about 50 people that came to see us over the weekend, including a good number of children. It was nice to stand on an almost pristine battlefield for a change. As the lone artilleryman at the event, I was afforded the opportunity to fall in with the infantry. It was fun, but I like firing half a pound of powder at a time as opposed to 60 grains. Plus, the rammer doesn't require both hands.

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