Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Booknotes VI (Sept '15)

New Arrivals:

1. Armed Only With Faith: The Civil War Correspondence of Chaplain William Lyman Hyde, 112th New York Infantry edited by Jim Quinlan (McFarland, 2015).

This book tells the story of the 112th NY using the unit chaplain's "war diary, journals, reports and letters to his wife." Diary entries are pretty brief but the highly observant letters and reports comprise extensive records of the regiment's service between 1862 and 1865 with the Department of the South and with the Army of the Potomac. The material is heavily weighted toward '64-'65 so will be most useful for the Overland, Richmond-Petersburg, and Appomattox campaigns. Hyde documents the situations of the regiment's sick and wounded regularly and at great length. Annotated by editor Jim Quinlan, this well organized book looks like a valuable resource.

2. "To Prepare for Sherman's Coming": The Battle of Wise's Forks, March 1865 by Wade Sokolosky and Mark A. Smith (Savas Beatie, 2015).

In March 1865, Jacob Cox gathered together a small Union army on the North Carolina coast and marched inland toward Goldsboro to link up with Sherman coming up from the south. At Wise's Forks, Cox was checked by a scratch force of Confederates led by Braxton Bragg. This victory has been credited with granting Joe Johnston the time needed to concentrate the remnants of the Confederacy's western armies and fight one of Sherman's wings at Bentonville. Sokolosky and Smith are an impressive writing team [their fine first book "No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar": Sherman's Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro, March 1865 is being reprinted by Savas Beatie in 2016] and this will undoubtedly prove to be the best treatment of this understudied battle. Long time readers might recall my review of a problematic earlier attempt The Battle of Wyse Fork (2008). In "To Prepare for Sherman's Coming" the authors's research delves deeply in archival and other primary sources and a great set of original maps has been prepared by George Skoch.

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