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.

Monday, April 9, 2012

David Crockett Neal, 6th TN Cavalry Regiment

I'm honored to have had several ancestors on my mom's side of the family who fought in the War for Southern Independence. Mom's great grandfather, David Crockett Neal, from Giles County, Tennessee, enlisted in the 11th (Gordon's) Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, Company B. The battalion was mustered into Confederate service in Nashville on January 8, 1862. Six companies were formed as part of this unit. Little is known about the battalion in its early months. It's known that in early 1862, it was part of the Western Department, garrisoned in Nashville. The battalion took part in the evacuation of Nashville on February 15th. On March 31st, it was assigned as an unattached cavalry unit in the Army of Mississippi in Corinth. It likely participated in the Battle of Shiloh, and it provided cover for Gen. 
P.G.T. Beauregard’s army as it withdrew from Shiloh to Corinth following that battle on April 7, 1862.

During the subsequent Siege of Corinth in May, the 11th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion was consolidated with the 2nd (Biffle's) Tennessee Cavalry Battalion to form the 6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment.* The new regiment participated in operations against Federal Gen. Henry Halleck's slow advance and siege of Corinth between April 29 and May 30, 1862. It continued to operate in North Mississippi through the balance of that year and into January 1863, serving in Gen. John H. Wharton's Brigade.

It was during the regiment's assignment in and around Corinth that my Great Grandfather Nathan R. Oakes, enlisted as an infantry recruit nearby in Kossuth. There is no evidence to suggest that either of these ancestors ever met during the war, although as Providence would have it, they were both participants in several of the same battles, including Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. It will be in the next generation that the Neal and Oakes families intersect again, this time when my mother's parents married in Texas more than 50 years later.

* While officially designated the 6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, it is often listed as the 1st Tennessee Cavalry Regiment in the Official Records. In fact, according to Tennesseans in the Civil War, which has compiled the histories of the state's military units, the record of this regiment is often confused. When first organized it was called the 1st Tennessee Cavalry Regiment. However, its designation was later changed to the 6th when it was discovered that there already existed a 1st on the Confederate rolls. In the Official Records the regiment is sometimes listed as the "1st" and other times the "6th." In other instances, in an attempt to clarify, it is listed as the "1st [6th]." And these discrepancies are the easiest to sort out! Oh, and there were also at least 14 Union cavalry regiments recruited from Tennessee. They, of curse, have the same numerical designations as their Confederate counterparts, 1st to 14th.

Source: The Eleventh Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, F. Walter (unpublished manuscript)

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