Sat, Jul 15|
HISTORYtalks: Help Save the Wyse Fork Battlefield by Wade Sokolosky
Time & Location
Jul 15, 2023, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
About the Event
Please join us for a Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours Lecture Series! Our next lecture will be: Help Save the Wyse Fork Battlefield by Wade Sokolosky. Cost is $6 per person. Zoom Login details will be sent with your email registration confirmation.
Major General William T. Sherman’s 1865 Carolinas Campaign has long been overshadowed by the events in Virginia. After his largely unopposed “March to the Sea,” in February 1865 Sherman struck off again north, aiming to unite with Union forces in Virginia and crush General Robert E. Lee. By the first week of March, Sherman was operating with nearly complete freedom in North Carolina.
The responsibility for ensuring a functioning railroad from New Bern to Goldsboro in support of Sherman’s movement rested with Maj. Gen. Jacob D. Cox. On March 2, 1865, Cox ordered his hastily assembled Provisional Corps to march toward Goldsboro. In response to Cox’s movement, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston executed a bold but risky plan to divert troops away from Sherman by turning back Cox’s advance. Under the command of the aggressive but controversial Gen. Braxton Bragg, the Confederates stood for four days and successfully halted Cox at Wyse Fork, located near Kinston, N.C. This delay provided Johnston with the precious time he needed to concentrate his forces and fight the large and important Battle of Bentonville.
The Wyse Fork battlefield, some 4,000 acres of historically significant landscape, is now threatened by a proposed North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) project that will run from Raleigh to Morehead City along the coast. If the NCDOT succeeds, the planned new interstate (I-42) bypass includes an intersection that will destroy the core battlefield despite the U.S. Department of Interior’s formal designation as the Wyse Fork Battlefield National Register District.
The battlefield’s federal designation honors North Carolina’s third-largest Civil War land engagement; it has several other historical and legally protected entities as well. In specifics, it would eliminate or relocate the historic Cobb House, which initially served as a Union headquarters during the battle, and later, a Confederate field hospital, as well as the entire left flank of Maj. Gen. Jacob D. Cox’s defensive line. According to historian and archeologist Dr. Lawrence Babits, the impacted area includes a 1781 Revolutionary War component and portions of two other 1864 engagements within the register area.
Join us as Wade Sokolosky, co-author of “To Prepare for Sherman’s Coming” The Battle of Wise’s Forks, March 1865, discusses the ongoing efforts to save the battlefield.
Colonel Wade Sokolosky (Ret.), a native of Beaufort, North Carolina, is a graduate of East Carolina University and a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Army. He is one of North Carolina's leading experts on the 1865 Carolinas Campaign. Wade has lectured throughout the country speaking to roundtables, various societies, and organizations, and at historical sites. He is the author of North Carolina’s Confederate Hospitals, 1861-1863, Volume I. Wade is also co-author (with Mark A. Smith) of "To Prepare for Sherman's Coming": The Battle of Wise's Forks, March 1865, and "No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar": Sherman's Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro, and the compiler of “Final Roll Call” Confederate Losses during the Carolinas Campaign.”
He is the recipient of the Raleigh Civil War Round Table’s 2017 T. Harry Gatton Award for his important efforts to study, preserve, and share the Civil War heritage of his native North Carolina. Additionally, Wade is a tour guide with the Friends of Bentonville Battlefield and is a member of the Brunswick County Civil War Round Table Advisory Council.
Wade lives in Beaufort, North Carolina, and works for the N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry System.
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