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Mass Grave Suspected at Bentonville Civil War Battlefield

Archaeology is getting close to determining the burial places of Confederate soldiers killed in an 1865 battle in Johnston County.

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FOUR OAKS, N.C. — In March 1865, 80,000 soldiers clashed on a Johnston County battlefield. More than 4,000 were killed, wounded or listed as missing.

But you won't find their graves on the battlefield.

Now, it appears there are soldiers buried on the battlefield, and there is evidence of a mass grave.

The area is the Bentonville Battlefield.

“We think about 360 Confederate soldiers are buried in this area,” said Donny Taylor, Bentonville Battlefield manager.

“Probably it will turn out to be two large mass graves that are basically joined together,” Taylor said.

The people at Bentonville Battlefield have long suspected there were Confederate soldiers buried somewhere on this land. A monument, dedicated in 1895, honors those soldiers who fell and lie “here.” But where “here” is has never been clear.

Archaeologists recently used a ground-penetrating radar system to try to solve the mystery. Anomalies they found show a break in the ground 6 feet below the surface.

“This gives us an idea where it is,” Taylor said. “We had an area. Now we've got a spot.”

Archaeologists plan further tests that should pin down whether there is a mass grave and its precise location.


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