Wade Sokolosky and Mark A. Smith
Savas Beatie, 2015, 274 pp., $27.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
As the Civil War Sesquicentennial comes to a close, the publication of many battles of 1865 have come forth. Some of these battles are generally unknown to the masses and publications such as “To Prepare for Sherman’s Coming”: The Battle of Wise’s Forks, is a welcome addition to any library. Both Wade Sokolosky and Mark A. Smith bring to life this crucial battle during the Carolina Campaign of General Sherman. Once again, Sherman gets quite a bit of attention when it comes to his famous March to the Sea, but it was his Carolina Campaign which brought forward a surrender. Now, with this book in publication, there is more clarification on this battle and the Carolina Campaign as a whole.
Wade Sokolosky is a retired Colonel of the United States Army of twenty-five years and is a graduate of East Carolina University. He is a popular speaker on the Civil War circuit and is the co-author of Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro and Final Roll Call: Confederate Losses during the Carolinas Campaign. He also leads tours on Civil War battlefields. Mark A. Smith is a retired Major of the United States Army of twenty-one years and holds a Masters in Military Studies. He served in various positions including Scout Platoon Leader, Battalion Executive Officer, and was the Army ROTC Instructor at Virginia Tech. He is the co-author of “No Such Army Since the Day of Julius Caesar: Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro which he authored with Wade Sokolosky.
One of the biggest questions which I ask myself when reviewing a book is “what new thought does this book bring to the table?” Overall, I think the existence of this book brings something new to the table. Overall, outside of primary sources and one volume histories of the war, this is one of the few works which handles the subject of The Battle of Wise’s Forks. As the narrative went on through the book, they handle this subject masterfully with excellent explanations to the situation at hand. This battle was a crucial Union victory in the Carolinas Campaign and both Wokolosky and Smith have given it due diligence in their research. One of the more important things to me going into this book was the portrayal of Braxton Bragg. Recently, I had some experiences with books on Bragg as painting him as a whining commander. But here, in “To Prepare for Sherman’s Coming,” I felt as though Bragg was being treated with the full respect he commanded and deserved. Also, while most of this campaign surrounds itself with General Sherman, it was nice to see attention paid to both John Schofield and Jacob Cox who were instrumental in the victory here. The book is filled with portraits and excellent maps which I have come to expect from this publisher.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the last year of the Civil War, or anyone interested in the Carolinas Campaign. Both Sokolosky and Smith have written other works, and some on the way, dealing with this mostly ignored campaign and their work is excellent. The research is second to none and their narrative flows gracefully across the pages. Highly recommended.