After abandoning Fayetteville, North Carolina to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army group, Lieutenant General William J. Hardee withdrew his corps north of the city. Hardee had ordered the Clarendon Bridge over the Cape Fear River destroyed, removing the possibility of a vigorous pursuit by the Federals. The situation for the Confederates, however, remained dire. Hardee’s immediate superior, Gen. Joseph Johnston, was in the process of assembling a makeshift army to delay Sherman’s advance. By the middle of March, the forces that Johnston hoped to consolidate were still scattered throughout the state. More time would be needed for the Confederates to rendezvous. Since Hardee’s corps was naturally positioned to contest the enemy as they left Fayetteville, it would fall to him to engage Sherman once he resumed his march. The veteran officer would prove to be more than equal to the task.
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