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Battle of Monroe's Crossroads   
March 9, 1865    
Cumberland Co., North Carolina    

        As Union General William T. Sherman marched through North Carolina during the closing days of the Civil War, a little-known battle at the farm of Charles M. Munroe nearly resulted in the capture of the Union Calvary commander.
       The battle was fought at the Munroe farm now located within the vast Fort Bragg military reservation, just east of present-day Southern Pines and Pinehurst. Nothing of the Munroe farm remains today. Only a monument erected by the military and the graves of those who died there mark the battlefield.
        The identity of Charles Munroe and how he relates to the numerous other Cape Fear Valley Munroes is unclear. His father was Malcolm Munroe who died sometime before 1832, when Charles inherited the farm. The records suggest that Malcolm’s wife may have been named Celia, but that is unconfirmed. Malcolm’s other children were C.F. Munroe, wife of Marble Taylor; Celia Munroe, wife of A.H. Saunders; Flora Munroe, who died before June 6, 1859, apparently unmarried; Mary C. Munroe, wife of Charles Moody; Margaret Munroe, also apparently unmarried, who died before March 6, 1859; and Sarah Ann Munroe, born Nov. 17, 1826, the wife of Israel D. Gaddy. Sarah died May. 1, 1892, according to her headstone.
        Charles was born about 1812 and was the older brother to his six sisters. His wife was named Saphrone, but her maiden name is unknown. Surviving records show they had only one child, Ann P. Munroe, who married John Black.
        The battle at the Monroe farm was but a small fight on the Carolinas campaign at the end of the war. On the evening of March 9, 1865, Maj. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, commander of the Sherman’s cavalry, made camp at the Munroe farm, along with one of his three divisions. In fact, Kilpatrick’s three divisions were all separated from one another. One division was mired in the thick swamps in the area, the other was blocked from reaching Kilpatrick by the Confederates.
        The commander of the Confederate Cavalry, Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton, realized the situation and the opportunity it presented him. As midnight approached, Hampton, and one of his division commanders, Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, approached Kilpatrick’s encampment at the Monroe house.
           "Where are the enemy?" Wheeler asked.
        "There they are, General," said one of his Scouts, pointing to the campfires only a few hundred yards away.
        "What? That near and all asleep?" Wheeler said. "Won’t we have a picnic tonight!"
        Hampton and Wheeler conferred with the other Confederate commander, Maj. Gen. Matthew C. Butler. Wheeler’s men were deployed along the western edge of the camp. Butler’s men formed a line north of the Monroe house, at a right angle to Wheeler’s.
        Butler summoned one of his best captains and gave him orders surround Kilpatrick’s headquarters. The Confederates were to "rush straight for the house, surround it . . . and if he should live here, hold the position until we could get up, as I wished to make Kilpatrick a prisoner," Butler later wrote.
        As dawn broke, the steady drizzle gave way to a heavy fog. The Confederates quickly overran the still-sleeping Federals. Kilpatrick arose, only to see his troopers "flying before the most formidable cavalry charge I have ever witnessed," he later wrote. He stepped onto the porch -- still dressed only in his shirt, pants and slippers -- as Butler’s men surround the farmhouse. Without his uniform insignia, the Confederates did not recognize Kilpatrick.
        "Where is General Kilpatrick?" they asked the general.
        "Yonder he goes, on that black stallion," Kilpatrick quickly replied, sending the Southerns off after the man.
        Kilpatrick had narrowly escaped capture. For years to come, Rebels derisively referred to the episode as "Kilpatrick’s Shirttail Skeddattle."
        As the Union army rose to fight, the combat became close and hand-to-hand. The Federals, who had fled to the woods as the attack began, formed their lines and used their repeating rifles to push the Confederates back. A turning point of the battle came when a Union artillery battery reached their cannons and fired a round of canister into the charging Confederates.
        Butler and Wheeler organized one final push against the Federals, but Kilpatrick’s men refused to be moved. General Hampton realized the situation and called off the fight. By 8:00, only 30 minutes after it began, the battle was over.
        The next day, Kilpatrick and the rest of Sherman’s army would occupy the City of Fayetteville. Ten days later, March 19, the final battle of the Civil War was fought at Bentonville, North Carolina. Within a month, the war was over.

        Following the battle, the Munroe place was in shambles. Charles and his family lost nearly all they owned. Charles died June 8, 1866 and is buried with his sister, Sarah, in a small cemetery on Gaddy’s Mountain, near his homeplace.
        Following Charles’ death, possession of the homeplace was contested. Charles’s siblings filed suit against his estate and widow, seeking their share of the property. Apparently, Charles never gained legal title to the property from his father’s estate. The land passed from the Munroe family when it was sold to Neil S. Buie in 1881 and ultimately to the government when Ft. Bragg was established.


Cumberland County Estate Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

Calvary Clash in the Sandhills: The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads North Carolina, by Kenneth Belew, prepared for the United States Army, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, by The National Parks Service, Midwest and Southeast Archeological Centers,1997.

The Last Stand in the Carolina: The Battle of Bentonville, by Mark L. Bradley, Savas Publishing Co., Campbell, CA, 1996.

The Civil War Battle at Monroe’s Crossroads: A Historical Archeological Perspective, Douglas D. Scott and William J. Hunt, Jr., published by XVII Airborne Corps and Ft. Bragg, Department of the Army and Southeast Archeological Center, National Parks Service, 1998.


Copyright 1988, 1995-2000, Donald R. Monroe.  All rights reserved.  Permission is hearby granted for one-time use by individuals conducting genealogical research.  Commercial use is strictly prohibited.