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.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

32nd Mississippi assigned to S.A.M. Wood's Brigade

Gen. Sterling Alexander Martin Wood
In May 1862, Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes's 32nd Mississippi Regiment (a.k.a. "Lowrey's Regiment") was officially recorded as belonging to Wood's Brigade. In the organization of the army recorded in the Official Records for June 30, 1862,* the 32nd is listed together with the 16th Alabama, 33rd Mississippi, 44th Tennessee, and Baxter’s Battery, altogether commanded by Brig. Gen. S.A.M. Wood, in the Maj. Gen. William J. Hardee's Third Army Corps. Gen. Braxton Bragg commands the Army of Mississippi (soon to be renamed the Army of Tennessee). It's likely that the regiment was added as a replacement unit to make up for the corps’s significant losses at the Battle of Shiloh.

Sterling Alexander Martin Wood was born in Florence, Alabama on March 17, 1823. He attended St. Joseph College in Kentucky, and then moved to Tennessee to practice law. In 1851, Wood returned to Alabama, where he served in the state legislature. From 1851-1857, Wood was solicitor of Alabama's 4th judicial court. He also served as editor of Florence's Gazette newspaper before the war.

Wood's home state of Alabama seceded in January 1861. On April 3, Wood joined his state's militia as captain of the "Florence Guard." In May, he was elected colonel of the 7th Alabama Infantry Regiment and served with his regiment in Pensacola, Florida. In October of that year, Col. Wood was given brigade command and joined the Army of Central Kentucky and served at Bowling Green. After promotion to brigadier general on January 7, 1862, he was given command of a brigade in the Army of Mississippi. Shiloh would be Wood's first battle as brigadier general. However, he was wounded while leading his brigade in the fighting on April 6-7.

Although Lowrey's Regiment was attached to Wood's Brigade by this point, it did not participate in the Battle of Shiloh because it was not yet equipped. Instead, the regiment remained at Corinth to guard prisoners taken at the battle.

Following Shiloh, Wood continued to lead the brigade through the fighting in the Kentucky, Murfreesboro, Tullahoma, and Chickamauga Campaigns. Wood was wounded again in the Battle of Perryville, and his command fell temporarily to Lowery, who was also wounded in the battle. A few weeks after the army's victory at Chickamauga in September 1863, Wood resigned his commission, opening a path for the newly promoted Brig. Gen. Mark P. Lowrey to assume command of the brigade.

After his resignation, Wood returned to his law practice. Later, he served again in the Alabama Legislature and also as a law professor at the University of Alabama.

S.A.M. Wood died in 1891 at age 67, and is buried in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

To my knowledge, this is the first mention of the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment in the The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. See Vol. 10, Part 1.

Sources: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Vol. 10; Wikipedia

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