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"Gen. Kilpatrick's Union cavalry repulsed Gen. Hampton's Confederate cavalry there, March 10, 1865, ten miles north. Now in Fort Bragg area." After making a destructive sweep through South Carolina and Georgia in late February 1865, Gen. William T. Sherman’s army headed north. The force supposedly was headed towards Charlotte; that is what Sherman wanted the Confederate leadership to think. Sherman, however, was using Charlotte as a decoy to draw away rebel troops from his actual destination, Goldsboro. Protecting Sherman’s left flank was the 3rd Cavalry Division led by Union Gen. Hugh J. Kilpatrick. When the Confederates dsicovered Sherman and Kilpatrick’s actual path, they ordered their troops on the road to Charlotte to turn around and pursue the Federal troops en route to Goldsboro.
On the night of March 9, Kilpatrick’s division camped at Monroe’s Crossroads, at the intersection of Morganton and Yadkin roads near Green Springs in present-day Hoke County. Kilpatrick and his staff officers made their headquarters at the Charles Monroe house. That same night Confederate cavalrymen led by Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton approached the camp from behind and found that Kilpatrick had left the rear of his encampment defenseless. The cavalrymen retreated to the woods and planned a surprise attack for the following morning.
The next morning, Kilpatrick woke up early and stepped outside of the house in his nightshirt just as the buglers were preparing to play reveille. At that point Confederate cavalrymen began charging through the camp yelling and shooting their pistols. Groggy Federal soldiers rose from their bedrolls, clumsily took their weapons, and headed for shelter. However, many were cut down by Confederate sabers before they could find cover. Still only in his nightshirt, Kilpatrick ran across the yard in his bare feet, mounted a horse, and escaped to the woods. In just a few minutes the Confederates had taken the entire camp as well as Kilpatrick’s officers, who were in the Monroe house.
Union troops began to regain ground when a lieutenant reached the unguarded Confederate artillery pieces and fired them into a mass of Confederates. Eventually Federal troops were able to form a line and return fire. By 9:00 a.m. Confederates retreated from the field. Looking at his tired, half-dressed, and poorly supplied troops, Kilpatrick, who had since rejoined his forces, could not command his troops to pursue the southern forces. The only Civil War battle to take place in Hoke County had come to an end. Today, the battlefield site is an artillery impact area at Fort Bragg. The farmhouse since has burned and the gravestones of Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives that day are hidden throughout the woods.
Eric J. Wittenburg, Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and the Civil War’s Final Campaign (2006)
William Preston Mangum II, “Kill Cavalry’s Nasty Surprise,” America’s Civil War (November 1996)
John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North Carolina (1963)
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.