By the end of February 1865, the North Carolina port city of Wilmington, defended by Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, had fallen to the army of Union Maj. Gen. John Schofield. The port city became a supply base for Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's army in North Carolina, then beginning to close in on Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army. To consolidate forces against Johnston, Sherman ordered Schofield's Army of the Ohio to advance inland from Wilmington, at the same time assigning Maj. Gen. Jacob Cox to move the Union Twenty-Third Corps from New Bern toward Goldsboro. Bragg attempted to cut off the two Union columns before they could unite. On March 7th, Cox’s advance was stopped by Maj. Gen. Robert Hoke’s and Brig. Gen. Johnson Hagood’s divisions at Southwest Creek astride the New Bern-Goldsboro Railroad below Kinston. On March 8th, Bragg attempted to seize the initiative by attacking the Union flanks. After initial success, their attacks stalled because of faulty communications but skirmishing continued. On March 9th, the Union forces were reinforced and beat back Bragg’s renewed attacks on the 10th after heavy fighting. Beaten, Bragg withdrew across the Neuse River. Sherman, who had just defeated Johnston's army at Bentonville, joined with Schofield at Goldsboro on March 23rd. Facing three Union armies, Johnston retreated north and on April 26th surrendered to Sherman.