Battle of Wyse Fork

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Battle of Wyse Fork, aka Second Battle of Kinston

Other Names: Wilcox’s Bridge, Wise’s Fork, 2nd Kinston, Second Southwest Creek, Kelly's Mill Pond

Location: Lenoir County, North Carolina

Campaign: Campaign of the Carolinas (February-April 1865)

Date(s): March 7-10, 1865

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. John Schofield [US]; Gen. Braxton Bragg [CS]

Forces Engaged: Divisions: 20,500 total (US 12,000; CS 8,500)

Estimated Casualties: 2,601 total (US 1,101; CS 1,500)

Result(s): Union victory

Civil War Battle of Wyse Fork (aka 2nd Kinston)
Battle of Wyse Fork.jpg
Wyse Fork / Kinston Battlefield Map

Description: Schofield planned to advance inland from Wilmington in February, while concurrently assigning Maj. Gen. Jacob Cox to direct Union forces from New Berne (present-day New Bern) toward Goldsboro. 

On March 7, Cox’s advance was stopped by Hoke’s and Hagood’s divisions under Gen. Braxton Bragg’s command at Southwest Creek below Kinston. On the 8th, the Confederates attempted to seize the initiative by attacking the Union flanks. After initial success, the Confederate attacks stalled because of faulty communications. 

On March 9, the Union forces were reinforced and beat back Bragg’s renewed attacks on the 10th after heavy fighting. Bragg withdrew across the Neuse River and was unable to prevent the fall of Kinston on March 14. (See Battle of Wyse Fork: A History.)

Civil War Battle of Kinston Map
Battle of Kinston Map.gif
North Carolina Battle of Kinston Battlefield Map

Source: National Park Service

Recommended Reading: The Battle Of Bentonville: Last Stand In The Carolinas (Hardcover: 575 pages). Description: As Sherman completed the destruction of Georgia, only the outnumbered but wily Confederate commander Joseph E. Johnston stood between Sherman’s army and the conquest of North and South Carolina. Finally, the Battle of Bentonville and the Campaign of the Carolinas ‘gets its well deserved attention.’ Bradley takes the reader from the last organized skirmish against Sherman's army in South Carolina to the climatic Battle at Bentonville. In between, Bradley discusses in detail the Campaign of the Carolinas, which includes the following battles: Rivers’ Bridge, Wyse Fork (aka 2nd Kinston), Monroe’s Crossroads, Averasborough (aka Averasboro), and the grand finale at Bentonville. On these pages, you will literally feel like you are emotionally rising and falling with Johnny Reb and Billy Yank. You will feel that Rebel Yell screaming in your ears and imagine that crackle of musketry. Continued below…

But the finest aspect of the book is its gripping depiction of the Battle of Bentonville; it was literally the Confederate’s last stand to halt Major General William T. Sherman's march through the Carolinas. For nearly a day, a rag tag, mottled army of Confederates from every corner of the Confederacy had the previously unchallenged army of Sherman "on the ropes." However, as the book vividly describes, the determination of a few Federal divisions and reinforcements save the Union army. In between the vivid descriptions of the fighting, Bradley masterfully throws in personal recollections and eyewitness accounts that are unmatched by previous books on the Campaign. An outstanding ‘photo section’ reflects the battlefield from numerous viewpoints, as well as several good-sized photographs of the participants. Also, and most importantly, the book is devoid of prejudice and bias. You will be hard pressed to find a more objective study; even for a subject that pulls so much emotion as Sherman's march. If you read just one book on the rarely discussed Campaign of the Carolinas, with the Battle of Bentonville, and the Confederacy’s last stand... READ THIS ONE. You will not be disappointed.

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Recommended Reading: Sherman's March: The First Full-Length Narrative of General William T. Sherman's Devastating March through Georgia and the Carolinas. Description: Sherman's March is the vivid narrative of General William T. Sherman's devastating sweep through Georgia and the Carolinas in the closing days of the Civil War. Weaving together hundreds of eyewitness stories, Burke Davis graphically brings to life the dramatic experiences of the 65,000 Federal troops who plundered their way through the South and those of the anguished -- and often defiant -- Confederate women and men who sought to protect themselves and their family treasures, usually in vain. Dominating these events is the general himself -- "Uncle Billy" to his troops, the devil incarnate to the Southerners he encountered.

 

Recommended Viewing: The History Channel Presents Sherman's March (2007). Description: “The story of General William Tecumseh Sherman who helped devastate the South's army at the end of the Civil War is told here via vivid reconstructions of his actions.” This is a great reenactment, presentation. It's not dull like some documentaries that just continually talk with the same guy for an hour. This includes several individuals that are extremely knowledgeable in their respective fields--be it civilian or military historian. Also, it includes many re-enactors that portray “Sherman as well as his entire command.” It literally takes the viewer back to 1864 to experience it firsthand.

 

Recommended Reading: Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea, by Noah Andre Trudeau (Hardcover). From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Trudeau, a prize-winning Civil War historian (Gettysburg), addresses William T. Sherman's march to the sea in the autumn of 1864. Sherman's inclusion of civilian and commercial property on the list of military objectives was not a harbinger of total war, says Trudeau. Rather, its purpose was to demonstrate to the Confederacy that there was no place in the South safe from Union troops. Continued below…

The actual levels of destruction and pillage were limited even by Civil War standards, Trudeau says; they only seemed shocking to Georgians previously spared a home invasion on a grand scale. Confederate resistance was limited as well. Trudeau praises Sherman's generalship, always better at operational than tactical levels. He presents the inner dynamics of one of the finest armies the U.S. has ever fielded: veteran troops from Massachusetts to Minnesota, under proven officers, consistently able to make the difficult seem routine. And Trudeau acknowledges the often-overlooked contributions of the slaves who provided their liberators invaluable information and labor. The march to the sea was in many ways the day of jubilo, and in Trudeau it has found its Xenophon. 16 pages of b&w photos, 36 maps.

 

Recommended Reading: On Sherman's Trail: The Civil War's North Carolina Climax. Description: Join journalist and historian Jim Wise as he follows Sherman's last march through the Tar Heel State from Wilson's Store to the surrender at Bennett Place. Retrace the steps of the soldiers at Averasboro and Bentonville. Learn about what the civilians faced as the Northern army approached and view the modern landscape through their eyes. Whether you are on the road or in a comfortable armchair, you will enjoy this memorable, well-researched account of General Sherman's North Carolina campaign and the brave men and women who stood in his path.

 

Recommended Reading: Bentonville: The Final Battle of Sherman and Johnston (Civil War America). From Booklist: In March 1865, the Confederacy was dying, and Sherman's army was marching into North Carolina. Joseph Johnston made one last, desperate effort to halt the advance of an army three times the size of his, and on March 19 surprised one wing of Sherman's forces. A single Union corps very nearly won the battle all by itself, however, and when reinforced, drove off the attackers, inflicting heavy casualties. Hughes' excellent battle monograph is oriented toward the scholarly reader but accessible to the general one. Its particular strengths include verbal portraits of many leaders on both sides and eloquently understated descriptions of whole Confederate brigades going into battle with barely the rifle strength of a healthy company. A desirable addition to Civil War literature. Includes 9 maps.

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