By mid-March, 1865, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman had moved his army into North Carolina in pursuit of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's Confederates. On the afternoon of March 15th, Sherman's cavalry screen under Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick came up against Lieut. Gen. William Hardee’s corps—consisting of Brig. Gens. William B. Taliaferro’s and Lafayette McLaw’s infantry divisions, and Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s dismounted cavalry—deployed across the Raleigh Road near Smithville. After feeling out the Confederate defenses, Kilpatrick withdrew and called for infantry support. During the night, four divisions of the Twentieth Corps from Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum's wing of Sherman's army arrived to confront the Confederates. At dawn on March 16th, the Federals advanced on a division front, driving back skirmishers, but were stopped by the main Confederate line and a counterattack. Around mid-morning, the Federals renewed their advance with strong reinforcements and drove the Confederates from two lines of works, but were repulsed at a third line. Late afternoon, the Union Fourteenth Corps arrived on the field but was unable to deploy before dark due to the swampy ground. Hardee retreated during the night after holding up the Union advance for nearly two days. The armies of Sherman and Johnston would meet again three days later at Bentonville.