Somerset Place is plantation located on the land around Lake Phelps in present-day Washington County, North Carolina. Originally part of the Lake Company’s holdings that spanned over 100,000 acres in Washington and Tyrrell Counties, the area became Somerset Place in 1816 when Josiah Collins, Sr. became sole owner of the Lake Company. Under Collins’s grandson, Josiah Collins III, Somerset Place became one of the largest plantations in the South. Today it is a North Carolina State Historic Site.
Josiah Collins III was the heir to Somerset Place, a plantation originally built by his grandfather Josiah Collins, Sr. and his Lake Company. Josiah Collins III was educated at Harvard and later studied law in Litchfield, Connecticut, and lived in New York City for a time. At age 21, he assumed management of Somerset Place and turned it into one of the largest and most prosperous plantations in the South. Josiah Collins III died shortly after the beginning of the Civil War and his death marked the end of Somerset Place. It was restored as a North Carolina State Historic Site in the 1950s and 1960s.
Wade Hampton III was one of the richest plantation owners in the South. He served as a general for the Confederacy during the United States Civil War and was engaged in battles, including Bull Run, Gettysburg, and Bentonville, from the beginning until the very end of the war. Hampton became the leader of Robert E. Lee’s cavalry forces, and he was sent southward at the end of the war to stop General Sherman. Hampton played an important role in the fighting in North Carolina. After the war, Hampton was elected as governor of South Carolina and served as a U.S. Senator.
The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads was a small Civil War battle that occurred on March 10, 1865 near Fayetteville. Mounted Confederate cavalry attacked an unprepared Union cavalry encampment. The fighting lasted several hours. Although initially routed the Union soldiers rallied, counter attacked, and retook the camp. The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads opened the road to Fayetteville for Confederate troops, allowed Confederate forces to arrive at Fayetteville first, and provided the Confederates the time needed to cross the Cape Fear River before the arrival of the Union soldiers.
After completing his "March to the Sea," General William T. Sherman proceeded north into the Carolinas. Sherman’s Army wrought devastation in South Carolina and met little resistance. Sherman captured Columbia, South Carolina, and it was burned to the ground. He then proceeded into North Carolina and took Fayetteville, Goldsboro, and then Raleigh. West of Raleigh at Durham’s Station, Sherman met with Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and signed a peace agreement that officially surrendered all Confederate forces still active in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
William Tecumseh Sherman was a Union General during the American Civil War. He led the Atlanta Campaign, and his “March to the Sea” was extremely popular in the North and dealt a severe blow to the South. Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign seized control of South Carolina and North Carolina and led to the official surrender of the Southern Confederate Army at Bennett’s Place. Sherman’s force left a path of devastation where it went and burned down prominent cities like Atlanta, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina. After the war, Sherman became the commanding general of the United States Army and was the military leader during the Indian Wars.
Hugh Judson Kilpatrick was a Union cavalry general and the first regular Union officer injured in the Civil War. He was a headstrong and reckless leader who sought fame and often exaggerated the results of battles. He earned the nickname “Kill-cavalry” for his reckless use of his men during battle. Kilpatrick became the head of General Sherman’s cavalry and participated in the Atlanta Campaign, the March to the Sea, and the Carolinas Campaign. After the war Kilpatrick served as the US Minister to Chile, and he died in Santiago in 1881.
The surrender at Bennett’s Place was the conclusion to General William T. Sherman’s successful Carolinas Campaign. Sherman’s forces took control of Raleigh and Sherman met with Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston at a farm called Bennett’s Place just outside of Durham’s Station, North Carolina, to discuss the surrender of all the forces under Johnston’s command. The initial talks occurred on April 17 and 18, 1865 but Secretary of War Edwin Stanton rejected the agreement and attacked Sherman in the press. Sherman and Johnston met again on April 26, 1865 and agreed to a surrender that was acceptable to Sherman’s superiors.
When U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., filibustered in March, the old-fashioned way, talking for approximately 13 hours and questioning whether the president had the constitutional authority to use unmanned drones to kill American noncombatants on U.S. soil, he unnerved many politicians and talking heads.
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was one of the highest ranking Confederate generals and a member of “Old Virginia.” Before the Civil War, Johnston had a distinguished military career and was the first West Point graduate to achieve the rank of general. During the Civil War, Johnston became a general in the Confederate Army, defended Richmond in the Peninsula Campaign, and opposed General Sherman in the Atlanta Campaign. He took command of the Confederate Army in North Carolina on February 25, 1865 to oppose General Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign and fought at the Battle of Bentonville. Johnston officially surrendered the Confederate Army at Bennett’s Place outside Durham’s Station, North Carolina on April 26, 1865.