Documents and Data
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
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 Malcolms wife may have been named Celia, but that is unconfirmed.
Malcolms 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 Shermans cavalry, made camp at the
Munroe farm, along with one of his three divisions. In fact, Kilpatricks 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 Kilpatricks 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. "Wont we have a picnic tonight!"
Hampton and Wheeler conferred with the other
Confederate commander, Maj. Gen. Matthew C. Butler. Wheelers men were deployed along
the western edge of the camp. Butlers men formed a line north of the Monroe house,
at a right angle to Wheelers.
Butler summoned one of his best captains and
gave him orders surround Kilpatricks 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
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 Butlers 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 "Kilpatricks
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 Kilpatricks 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
Shermans 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 Gaddys Mountain, near
Following Charles death, possession of
the homeplace was contested. Charless 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 fathers 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
Cumberland County Estate Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.
Calvary Clash in the Sandhills: The Battle of Monroes 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 Monroes 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.