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 16, 2012

Early days in the 32nd Regiment, 1862

In the later weeks of April, following the Battle of Shiloh, the Confederate army within the fortified area around the town of Corinth, Mississippi, was on high alert as Union Gen. Halleck was massing over 100,000 troops for his Corinth campaign.

Little is known about my great grandfather’s unit, the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment (soon to be attached to Wood's Brigade) during the weeks after Shiloh and before the evacuation of Corinth in May. The conditions for the entire army were far from pleasant. As writer David Williamson notes, "When the rain stopped and hot weather set in, drinkable water became scarce and, in the poor sanitary conditions, disease, especially chronic diarrhea, spread through the camps as neither town nor the Confederate Army were able to handle the large number of sick and wounded."

About this period Col. Mark Lowrey reported that the regiment was reduced by sickness and absences. Many of the men were sent to their homes nearby to recuperate. It wasn't until June, after the evacuation from Corinth, that conditions in the regiment improved. At Baldwyn, Mississippi, outside Tupelo, Col. Lowrey reported, "Since reaching this place we have been in camp of instruction and the regiment has improved very sensible both in drill and discipline and we hope by our next return to be able to report a deciding improvement in health which at this time is very bad indeed."

Photo by Mark Dolan, 2010  
Where the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment encamped on College Hill

Williamson goes on to write that of the 45,000 troops stationed in and around Corinth, by mid-May, 18,000 were hospitalized with sickness. Some of the brigade, perhaps including the 32nd Regiment, may have avoided some the squalor of the camps by being placed on outpost duty north of Farmington, a village about 4 miles east of Corinth. The regiments were likely posted there to keep them close to the action, into which they soon would be drawn.

Photo by Mark Dolan, 2010
The 32nd Mississippi Regiment encamped near the Corona College from March to May 1861

Sources: The Third Battalion Mississippi Infantry and the 45th Mississippi Regiment, David Williamson; 32nd Mississippi Regimental Return, June 1862

No comments:

Post a Comment