After Action Report, Bentonville

To Colonel Bradley Tyler Johnson
6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia, commanding

I herewith submit my report on the actions of our combined company in the vicinity of Bentonville, North Carolina, this past March 20-22, 1865.

Our company consisted of a strong showing by 12th Georgia, supplemented by elements of Company G, 15th Alabama. Battalion staff members Lt. Mike Flye and Sgt. Major Brian Patton were also present, serving in staff capacities.

I arrived on the site Friday afternoon, after an arduous journey by train and carriage, lasting some 2 days, with a night's rest in an inn part way. I found my way to the camp, despite the unfamiliar surroundings, and finally got my bearings amid the cluster of arriving troops.

Once that was taken care of, .it proved an easy task to find the ANV camp, and subsequently our own, helped on the way by Colonel Bill McElwee,  of the 2nd Battalion, with whom we fell in for this engagement.   I found Tom Bassford from the 15th Alabama already in camp, and he was most helpful in pointing me to the spot which he had saved for me.

Once camp was set up (I brought with me only a dog tent, since Ms Liz was unable to accompany me), I took myself to the nearby merchants. I had, unfortunately, left my headgear behind, so ai find Clearwater Hats to find a more then acceptable substitute, which went well with the great coat I acquired on my trip.

On the way back, I ran into Sgt. Dan Spinner of the 12th Georgia, who had just arrived, and was looking for our camp. I was able to guide him as I had been guided earlier.

Our company was now in camp, perhaps small, but considering our long journey,
an excellent showing. I not only found our friends from the Liberty Greys, but many from other areas as well, most notably General Brian Gessuaro from the Provisional Army of the Confederate States (PACS). As people set up camp, I took out my banjo and played a few airs. It was very nice, with the lovely setting of the woods in which we were camped. After a time, Sgt. Spinner came over with his vest contraption, and we whiled away a good bit of time in shared music making. Many other soldiers stopped by and listened as we played, seeming to take great solace from the melodies.

Dinner was taken in the fine company of  the aforementioned Tom Bassford, and Dan Spinner. We ate well, and enjoyed the fine company of good friends, too long parted over the lengthy winter. I did, however, miss the soothing presence of my lovely wife, who had to remain behind, though in a very safe location from the horrors of war, I am glad to say. The night took a decided chilly turn, and we retired for the evening and our well deserved rest.

Morning broke on Saturday, a somewhat warmer day. We arose and took stock of our situation. Sgt. Major Brian Patton, detached to 2nd Battalion staff for the weekend, came by and gave us news of our military situation. We were to form a stand alone company in a combined battalion of PACS and the 2nd Battalion, ANV, under the command of Colonel McElwee. PACS was to form the right wing, and we were to be the right most company in the left wing, composed of all ANV troops.

At 8:00 AM, Sgt. Dave Laiche of the 15th Alabama, called our company to assemble, and we proceeded out to the drill field for our morning drill exercise. I was most pleased at the precision of the company's maneuvers, particularly in light of the recent doldrums of winter quarters.  Drill concluded before 9:00, leaving us a little over an hour before battalion formation.

At 10:15, the battalion was formed, and we found our spot as laid out by Sgt. Major Patton. The majority of the drill was conducted by Sgt. Major Powell of the 2nd Battalion, under the supervision of Col. McElwee. We must have performed to their satisfaction, as we were dismissed before 11:00, time to for a quick trip to the nearby merchants.

Our trip to the merchants complete, there was time for more airs upon the banjo, my primary solace and relaxation with the eminent battle looming over us. Soon enough, at 1:00 PM, we were called into battalion line. Typical of these major engagements, we were on line well before any hint of fighting for the seemingly endless rounds of inspections, and the lengthy march to the field of battle. Finally, around 2:00, we were underway to the field.

As we arrived, we could see the lines of Federal infantry, and their breastworks. In the distance, we could see the preparing lines of the Confederate infantry, and their artillery support. At 3:00, our artillery opened on them. Our infantry gave its assault, rocking the Federal line, gradually driving them from their fortified position.

It seemed odd to us, that as we stood there watching, the entire Federal flank was presented to us, yet we did not advance. Only after about 30 minutes of hard fighting did we at last enter the fray. When we did though, we rolled effectively. The Federals refused their flank and held us for a time, but, in the long run, we able to prevail.

As a historic aside, in the battle, Johnston's Confederate Army had laid a trap fro the advancing Federals, into which they advanced, only to be sent reeling back towards the Morris Farm.  This was the action we reenacted this day.

The fierce fighting having abated, we reformed our ranks and marched back to our camps. Col. McElwee halted our march as we came near, and broke the battalion in the vicinity of the merchants. Having already made my trip for the day, I made off in the other direction, finding a roadside merchant selling sandwiches and cooling beverages, example of which I purchased, having missed my luncheon. As I made my way, I was frequently stopped by townspeople who thanked of for our hard fighting in their defense.

Refreshed from my exertions, I made my way back to camp, and inevitably to the call of music to refresh my soul. The notes seemed to fly from my fingers as I played. Many of the nearby townspeople stopped as they passed to listen with seeming enjoyment. After a time, Sgt. Spinner joined me, and we played together into the early evening, at times with quite a little gathering of listeners.

Time passed and the lure of dinner called. Pvt. Bassford tended the fire as he does so well, and we were able to assemble a delicious repast. The night began to fall. Pvt. Bassford took himself off to a nearby dance. Sgt. Spinner and I once more took out our instruments and began to play and sing and simply talk through the night. The chill of the evening finally took its toll on our fingers, and put instruments away. Rejoined, eventually, by Pvt. Bassford, we shared good fellowship, as well as a libation or two, before the tiredness of the days exertions betook us to our tents, and to a deserved rest, in the somewhat milder temperatures.

Dawn came in good time as it will. I forced myself to stay in my shelter, but at 7:00  found myself  crawling out. Pvt. Bassford was kind enough to share some excellent bacon with me for a part of my breakfast. We passed the time, talking of home, and what we would do when we finally were able to return at the war's close. We spent some time at this, before I was called away to officers' call.

After officers' call, with no battalion formation scheduled, I took another trip to the merchants, in search of gifts f.or the loved ones who, though far away, were foremost in my thoughts. I was able to find some things, which, small tokens though they were, made me feel happier at the thought of seeing them again.

On my return, Sgt. Jon Chan of the 12th Georgia had the thought of having a photographic image taken of out company at a photographer he had found in the nearby town. We gathered our forces and went over, but clearly many other soldiers had the same idea, and we were forced to make an appointment for later that day.

We returned to our camp, and me to the comfort of my banjo, where I played for a time, again to the  enjoyment of a number of the townspeople, who stopped to listen and ask many questions. It was pleasant relaxation as we awaited the carnage to come.

Soon enough, somewhat after 11:30 AM, we were called into battalion line. As before, the long round of inspections begun, and finally we began the longer march to this afternoon's place of engagement.

We wended our way through the camps, and finally emerged at an open field, which, though very sandy, bore the signs of last year's cotton crop, in the from of balls of cotton still lying on the sandy soil. Many soldiers from non cotton producing states picked up examples as souvenirs, and to give to friends as mementos.

Our march finally ended, and we could see the Federal lines forming in front of us. Our industrious young lads took in on themselves to dig entrenchments, using tin cups and plates as implements, constructing a rather impressive earthwork.

As a modern aside, the breastworks constructed by the Federals across the way were somewhat more impressive.  However, they were in fact, a part of the scenario, and the sappers were aided by the use of picks and shovels. Our lads worked really in order to pass the time, and made quite a good show.  Of course, we then had to march right over it and abandon it.

Finally, after quite a wait, the battle began. Confederate artillery, positioned on our flanks, began its barrage on the Federal line. Weakened by this, The Federals then had to withstand a fierce infantry assault.  Our battalion gave its full effort as we advanced, only to be driven back. However, the Federal line was then taken in their rear, and a long fire fight ensued.

A note both historic and modern must be inserted here.  The action we were to depict was the last great charge by Confederate infantry in the war, and came near, only to be held off by Gen. James Morgan's firm stand behind the earthworks he had prudently ordered to be dug. Sadly, a Confederate group (not ANV) would not leave the field when scheduled by the scenario, causing the Federals to run out of ammunition. This forced an early end to our engagement on the field.

The action having ended, Col. McElwee broke the battalion in place, to allow troops to bring in wagons prior to breaking camp.  This we did, and thanks to him for his courtesy.  On our return to camp, we reformed our small company, and made our way to the photographer's for our appointment. It took some time, but a fine image was made.

Here another modern aside.  We had a tintype made, using a period camera.  I am proud to say that the tintype is now in my possession, and prints will go to all who participated. If anyone wishes to see the image, go to, it is now the banner image on the page,  Click on the thumbnail to view a full size digital reproduction.

 We returned to our camp and went about the sad duty of breaking down.  Saying our goodbyes, we finally dispersed on made our way on the long trek home, knowing not how our loved ones had fared in the long years of our service.

I was most fortunate to find a carriage, and that trains were in fact still running, though on irregular schedule, and was able to make my way home, stopping in that same inn I had recently stopped at on my way. After over four years of struggle, hardship, yet fond memories of the wonderful friends I had made, the war was finally over.

Respectfully submitted this 25th day of April, 1865,
Captain Thomas Armstrong Jones (aka Leonidas Jones) commanding
Amalgamated Company, 6th Regiment, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia
The Liberty Greys
Any Fate But Submission