Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman split his army into two columns as they moved toward Goldsboro, North Carolina. The right was commanded by Major General Oliver Otis Howard, and the left column by Major General Henry W Slocum. Confederate General Joseph E Johnston hoped to attack the Union troops while they were split up, and he sent Lieutenant General William J Hardee’s Corps for the job. Slocum’s men crossed the Cape Fear River near Averasboro, North Carolina.
At dawn on the morning of March 16th 1865 troops of the XX Corps under command of Union Major General Alpheus S William were attacked by Confederate troops. Union reinforcement came onto the field and pushed the Confederate skirmishers back. The Confederates formed another line, and held their ground. However in the late afternoon, as more Union troops arrived on the field, Hardee could see his men were in danger of being outflanked, and he withdrew his troops during the night.