FOUR OAKS — Bentonville Battlefield is closing out 2012 with an increase in visitation numbers. There was a 60 percent increase in visitation numbers this October compared to October last year, and a 4.3 percent increase in November. The nearly 600 visitors to the Dec. 1 “Civil War Christmas” program should help make for a strong finish to the year. Such increases in visitation are part of a year-long trend at Bentonville Battlefield and other State Historic Sites and museums.
“We transformed our fall civilian living program into a festival and had three times as many visitors to the event,” explains Site Manager Donny Taylor. “We also advertised more for this program, thanks to help from the Johnston County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Friends of Bentonville Battlefield helped fund the program also.”
Bentonville Battlefield additionally is employing online posts to the www.ncculture.com web page, which lists all the events at historic sites and museums within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources and provides statewide exposure to programs and events at all venues.
Since becoming a State Historic Site in 1957, Bentonville Battlefield has interpreted the story of the state’s largest Civil War battle, and the final Confederate offensive action of the war. The Battle of Bentonville involved 80,000 troops over 6,000 acres for three days. It is said that fighting was so intense that bark was shorn off the trees.
The N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund (NCNHT) also this year awarded a grant of $355,000 to the site for additional land acquisition. The NCNHT and the Civil War Trust are helping to preserve original battlefield acreage in an area of increasing urban development. The grant will enable the purchase of 120 additional acres, and increase Bentonville Battlefield’s size to 1,500 acres. The additions help visitors envision the massive area of land and movement of troops involved in the battle.
“People also want to see the house that became a field hospital, where the teen-aged Junior Reserve soldiers fought, and where the Confederates made the final stand before being overwhelmed by superior numbers of Federal troops,” Taylor says.
Bentonville Battlefield presents six annual programs – a military program in March, three summer living history programs, a fall festival, and a Christmas program.
North Carolina is known far and wide for its authentic cultural experiences, and historic sites and museums are great destinations for those important cultural and heritage travelers, who stay longer and spend more money in local economies.
“Visitors are discovering that our state supported historic sites and museums offer great family fun, says Cultural Resources Secretary Linda Carlisle, who noted that state historic sites overall have seen a 15 percent increase in visitation this year.
To learn more about the special events occurring every day at state cultural and historic attractions, visit www.ncculture.com. Bentonville Battlefield is located at 5466 Harper House Road in Four Oaks, three miles north of Newton Grove on S.R. 1008, about one hour from Raleigh and about 45 minutes from Fayetteville.