Civil War History: Battle of Morrisville Station Remembered

Story and photos by Hal Goodtree.

Morrisville, NC – The Town of Morrisville dedicated a Civil War marker on Friday, commemorating the Battle of Morrisville, quite possibly the last engagement of the Civil War.

Battle of Morrisville Civil War Marker

On Friday evening, Morrisville Mayor Jackie Holcombe and Town Council dedicated a Civil War historical plaque in front of  the entrance to Town Hall.

The Battle of Morrisville, April 13-15 1865, is actually classified as an “engagement.” Union troops, rolling west from capturing Raleigh, shelled the Morrisville railroad junction. Confederate troops fought a delaying action with cavalry and infantry as they tried to evacuate wounded soldiers as well as supplies to the west. The Page House in Morrisville, recently designated a Wake County Historical Site, still has bullet holes and artillery scars in the brick chimney from the battle.

The Battle of Morrisville may have been the last official engagement of the Civil War. Confederate General Joe Johnston was in contact with Union General William T. Sherman, setting the stage for their April 17th meeting at Bennet Farm in Durham and the largest surrender of rebel forces during the War. Lee had already surrendered at Appomatox and Lincoln was dead.

The marker, dedicated on the 147th anniversary of the engagement, now officially puts Morrisville on the North Carolina Civil War Trail, as well it should be.

More info from local historians:

  • Battle at Morrisville Station (John Guss)
  • The Battle of Morrisville (Ernest Dollar)

5 replies
  1. Chip Barkel
    Chip Barkel says:

    My GGF was George Burkel. He is crediited with firing the last gun of the Civil War at Morrisville, NC. I believe he was with George Farber and George Peterson at the time. In 1971 I met the grandson of George Peterson who was with my GGF when this happened. He explained that his GGF stopped firing, because a messenger had arrived with a message. George Burkel was still firing. The message was that the war was over.

    I will be visiting Morrisville in early Aug. Is the battlefield a place I could visit?

    • Hal Goodtree
      Hal Goodtree says:

      Page House in Morrisville still has bullet holes from the battle, but there’s no official “battlefield.”

      Bennett Place in Durham is nearby – site of Johnson’s surrender to Sherman. NC History Museum in Raleigh has some great Civil War exhibits as well.

    • Dean Tomlinson
      Dean Tomlinson says:

      Actually, the last “gun” fired during the War Between the States, was not fired at Morrisville. Not even close. There were still at least 2 confederate armies in the field even after Johnsons surrender who didn’t get word of the surrender right away, Richard Taylors forces in Alabama, and Edmund Kirby Smiths Army of the Trans-Mississippi. There were also several isolated rebel outposts. The last known battle was fought in Texas several weeks later (rebel victory), and the CSS Shenandoah didn’t formerly surrender until November of that year. You can’t always believe what you read in the history books.

  2. Nancy Caggia
    Nancy Caggia says:

    Thank you, Cary Citizen for letting us know! This Morrisville “engagement” really does has historical significance and I am so glad to see it finally recognized as such and the memorial markers put up, etc.!! “As it should be” is a perfect way to end this story.

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