As General Sherman's army advanced into North Carolina, Kilpatrick's Cavalry Division screened its left flank.
On the evening of March 9, two of Kilpatrick's brigades encamped near the Charles Monroe House in Cumberland (now Hoke) County.
Early on the 10th, Confederate cavalry under the command of CSA Lieutenant General Wade Hampton surprised the Federals in their camps, driving them back in confusion and capturing wagons and artillery.
The Federals regrouped and counterattacked, regaining their artillery and camps after a desperate fight.
With Union reinforcements on the way, the Confederates withdrew.
Location: Hoke County
Campaign: Campaign of the Carolinas (February-April 1865) next battle in campaign previous battle in campaign
Date(s): March 10, 1865
Principal Commanders: Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick [US]; Major General Joseph Wheeler and Lieutenant General Wade Hampton [CS]
Forces Engaged: Kilpatrick's Cavalry Division (1,850) [US]; Wheeler's and Hampton's Cavalry Division (3,000) [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 269 total (US 183; CS 86)
From Fiery Dawn by:Sharyn Kane and Richard Keeton
(currently out of print)
The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads began at dawn on March 10, 1865 with the sounds of thundering horse hooves and yelling Confederate soldiers storming onto the grounds surrounding a farm house near Fayetteville, North Carolina. The surprise Confederate charge on a camped Union cavalry brigade began what appeared at first to be a bloody rout. Union soldiers, many of them startled awake by the attack, scrambled for their weapons and cover while Confederates on horseback bore down on them.
But the battle that in the beginning seemed to be a likely Confederate victory became less assured as Union forces rallied a defense. All together, 4,000 to 5,000 men exchanged gunfire that morning around the abandoned farm house where stout pine trees provided cover for some men and swamps proved to be the undoing of others. There was a fierce firefight, duels on horseback, hand-to-hand combat, and the perilous retaking of two artillery pieces that may well have been the most decisive move of the day.