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 2, 2012

The founding of the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment

Great Grandfather Nathan R. Oakes
years after the war
Throughout the winter of 1861-1862, thousands of Mississippi men, like my Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes, volunteered for military service, first with their state militia, and later in the western Confederate army.

On this date in 1862, field officers were officially commissioned to lead what would soon be named the "32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment" of the Army of Mississippi. So, this date may be considered the 150th-year anniversary of the official organizing of the regiment.

Actually, the 32nd Mississippi had its roots in the 4th Regiment of "60-Day Troops" (a.k.a. Second Regiment) of December 1861, an "Army of 10,000," volunteers from Mississippi who enlisted for service in defense of their state, which only recently seceded from the United States of America. Nathan Oakes was only 16 when he enlisted. The men of the 60-Day regiment elected Mark P. Lowrey, a Baptist pastor known well to many of them, as their colonel. In spite of the severe winter hardships, a significant number of these citizen soldiers reenlisted under Lowrey to fight for the Confederacy.

Brig. Gen. Mark Perrin Lowrey
When the term of service expired for this state militia, Col. Lowrey raised another regiment, which was made up of volunteers from several northern Mississippi counties. By March, Lowrey had recruited nearly a thousand men for his regiment. Not surprisingly, its core was comprised of men who served under him in the state militia.

On March 13, 1862, Great Grandfather Oakes was one of those who reenlisted, as did his uncle, Capt. Norman. My Great Uncle William D. Turner, the brother of Great Grandfather's sweetheart, also enlisted soon thereafter. All three become members of Co. D, nicknamed "Lowrey Guards," in the Lowrey's new regiment, which soon will be designated "32nd Mississippi Infantry."

Confederate regiments typically were comprised of 10 companies, A-K (neither side had a Co. J for some reason). Each company had about 100 men, bringing the total in the regiment to approximately 1,000. Most of the men within a company were recruited from the same town or village.

The 32nd Mississippi Infantry was a typically-sized regiment of around a 1,000 troops. All 8 of the 10 companies were raised from a single county, Tishomingo, in Northeastern Mississippi. Whole companies of men who fought side-side were also neighbors back home.

My great grandfather (and a great uncle) were enlisted men in Company D, comprised of about 120 volunteers, at least 65 of whom were from the tiny village of Kossuth, in Tishomingo County. On March 13, 1862, Co. D was organized under the following officers, each from Kossuth:1 

Company D, “Lowrey Guards”
F.S. Norman: Captain
James Buford: First Lieutenant
J.L. Madden: Second Lieutenant
B.F. Dilworth: Third Lieutenant
Col. Lowery's first entry in the Muster Rolls of the 32nd Mississippi Regiment is dated April 2, 1862. These are the officers he recorded that comprised his original staff on that date:
M.P. Lowrey: Colonel
W.H.H. Tison: Lieutenant Colonel
F.G. Karr: Major
J.W. Swinney: Major
J.H.P. Stevenson: Surgeon
William C.Cross: Surgeon
D.A. Lithecome: Surgeon
T.J. Talleferro: Surgeon
D.F. Archer: Asst. Surgeon
A.B. Deloach: Asst. Surgeon
W.M. Morton: Asst. Surgeon
B.C. Cook: Asst. Surgeon
J.M. Bynum: Surgeon
J.A. Hughes: Asst. Surgeon
J.F. Arnold: AJM
J.M. Roberts: ACS
Tom Irons: ACS
W.D. Paden: ACS
J.W. Smith: Adjunct
O.D. Fitzgerald: Chaplin
M.B. Hanks: Chaplin Hardin
N. Patton: Ensign
According to The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, in May 1862, the newly formed 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment was assigned to S.A.M. Wood's Brigade in William Hardee's Corps, probably as a replacement unit to make up for the corps’s significant losses at the Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862. To my knowledge, this is the first mention of the organized 32nd in the The Official Records.2 

The 32nd Regiment, also known henceforth as "Lowrey's Regiment," will bear its founding commander's name until the closing days of the war. Even after Col. Lowrey was promoted to brigadier general in October 1863,3 and command given to another brigadier, the regiment continued to be known as "Lowrey's Regiment."

Lowrey's Regiment will distinguish itself in the war’s great battles and campaigns like Perryville, Chickamauga, Ringgold Gap, Atlanta, Franklin, Nashville, and Bentonville. Fewer than 1 in 10 remained at the army's surrender in 1865 in North Carolina. Great Grandfather Oakes and Great Uncle Turner were among that remnant.

1 Actually, Capt. Norman lived in the adjacent unincorporated community of Boneyard (now extinct).
2 The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Vol. 10, Part 1
3 At Lowrey's promotion to brigadier general, the brigade's name changed to "Lowrey's Brigade," while the 32nd Regiment continued to be known as "Lowrey's Regiment" in honor of its valiant leader.

Sources: Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898, Dunbar Rowland; N.R. Oakes Service Records; Muster Roll of the 32nd Mississippi InfantryNational Park Service, Civil War Sailors and Soldiers System

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