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.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment is transferred to Chattanooga, 1862

In July of 1862, the Army of Mississippi was regrouping in Tupelo following its evacuation from Corinth in the closing days of May. Gen. Braxton Bragg, having only recently assumed command of the army from Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, was deciding which would be his army’s next campaign: to attempt retaking Corinth or to advance against Union Gen. Buell's army through Middle Tennessee.

Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith had just decided to take his Army of East Tennessee, about 10,000 men, to invade Kentucky from Eastern Tennessee. He hoped to advance Confederate support in that border state and to confront Union forces under Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell beyond the Ohio River. To succeed in his plan, Smith needed to be reinforced by Bragg's Army of Mississippi.

After considering his options, Bragg agreed to join forces with Smith’s army in a great “Confederate Heartland Offensive,” which would avert Union attention away from the strategic strongholds of Vicksburg and Chattanooga. But first, it meant relocating Bragg's 30,000-man Army of Mississippi almost 800 miles to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It would become the largest Confederate troop movement by railroad during the war.

Beginning July 23, 1862, Bragg began moving his infantrymen on various trains on the Mobile & Ohio line, while his cavalry, artillery, and supply wagons moved by road. It would be a tortuous trip from Tupelo through Mobile and Montgomery, through Georgia to Chattanooga. Amazingly, with his army and cavalry reassembled in Chattanooga, Bragg will be ready to move with Smith’s forces toward Kentucky by the end of August.

According to company reports, my great grandfather’s 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment departed from Tupelo on this date, 150 years ago, via Mobile and Montgomery, to West Point, Atlanta, and Dalton, arriving near Chattanooga on August 3. The company will camp in various places around Chattanooga until the Army departs on August 28 on its invasion of Kentucky.

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