In honor of Pvt. Nathan R. Oakes, CSA

150 years ago, my great grandfather, Nathan Richardson Oakes, served as a private in Company D of the distinguished 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment in the Army of Tennessee. He participated in the great Civil War campaigns, including the battles of Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Atlanta, Franklin, Nashville, and Bentonville. I am writing about his engagements as well as some details about fighting for the Lost Cause. I hope to honor him and commemorate the events and individuals that contributed to making this a renowned unit in the Confederate Army of Tennessee.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tennessee Secedes, 1861

On this date in 1861, Tennessee becomes the last Southern state to secede from the United States. Tennessee declared its secession and joined the Confederacy following a call by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln for troops from each state to recapture Fort Sumter and other lost federal properties in the South. It joins with 10 other Southern states to form the Confederate States of America.

Tennessee provided thousands of soldiers in the war, both for the South (115,000) and the North. By war's end, 64,333 Confederate soldiers and 58,521 Union soldiers perished in Tennessee.

The 296 battles and skirmishes fought in Tennessee accounted for these high casualties, including the vicious fighting at the Battle of Shiloh, which at the time was the deadliest battle in American history. Other large battles in Tennessee included Fort Donelson, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Franklin, and Nashville. Consequently, the state shared disproportionately the devastation resulting from 4 years of warring armies crisscrossing its land. Tennessee's rivers were key arteries to the Confederacy, and from the early days of the war, Union efforts focused on securing control of those transportation routes, as well as major roads, railways, and mountain passes, such as the Cumberland Gap. The Federal invasion and occupation of the state brought poverty and distress to almost every household.

Source: Access Genealogy
Several of my ancestors fought in Tennessee, including Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes and Great Uncle William Turner, Mississippi infantrymen who fought on battlefields in Tennessee and elsewhere. I also had a Tennessean great-great grandfather, David Crockett Neal, who fought with the 6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment throughout Tennessee and other Southern states.

Source: Confederate Military History, Vol. 9, James D. Porter