Confederate Soldiers Monument, Smithfield
This monument sits in Riverside Cemetery atop a small mound of earth and has a concrete base. The obelisk extends high above the surround gravestones. It is made of white marble and the inscription on the front of the monument has begun to weather and fade. The citizens of Smithfield erected the monument to commemorate the fallen Confederate soldiers who fought and died at Bentonville and were later buried in the Riverside Cemetery.
TO THE / SOLDIERS / OF THE / SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY, / WHO SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES / IN A CAUSE / WHICH THOUGH LOST, / WILL ALWAYS REMAIN / DEAR / TO THEIR COUNTRYMEN. / THIS MONUMENT IS ERECTED / BY THEIR ADMIRERS AND FELLOW CITIZENS / ERECTED 1887 / MAY 10, 1887
May 10, 1887
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The monument dedication and unveiling took place on inside Riverside Cemetery and the Grand Lodge of Masons of North Carolina, Masonic Lodge of Smithfield and Odd Fellows Lodge of Smithfield performed the ceremonies. Col. A. M. Waddell gave the official address to the crowd that gathered and H.L. Worthington read a poem that he composed. Ed. W. Pou Jr. introduced Col. Waddell by providing a brief speech on the history of the Civil War and, more specifically, the battle of Bentonville. The full speeches of both Col. Waddell and Mr. Pou are found in May 12, 1887 edition of the Goldsboro Messenger. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston planned to attend the event but work as the U.S. Railroad Commissioner prevented him from attending and Senator Vance failed to attend because of business in Tennessee. Miss Lilly Benson, a 12-year-old girl, performed the honor of actually unveiling the monument itself. Between two and three thousand people attended the ceremony depending on the source consulted. By April of 1887 the monument was erected but it was not unveiled or dedicated until May of 1887.
The Battle of Bentonville was the last major battle fought in the Civil War and was the largest battle fought in North Carolina. It lasted from March 19 through March 21, 1865. It was the Confederates’ last ditch effort to defeat Sherman’s army as he advanced north. At Riverside Cemetery, many of the fallen Confederate soldiers were buried and the monument was an attempt to commemorate their sacrifice. Previous to the erection of the monument, only wooden slabs marked the graves of the soldiers who were buried at the sight.
In early 1900s, some felt that this and other monuments were placed too far from the actual battlefield but this concern seems to have faded quickly.
This marker is surrounded by gravestone and sits atop a small mound in the cemetery.