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.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bragg's army arrives at Glasgow, Kentucky

The Union fort at Munfordville, Kentucky, along the Green River, was defended by a force of 4,000 men under Col. John T. Wilder—large enough to deal with any Confederate raiders that roamed about, but far too small to resist Gen. Braxton Bragg's army of 30,000 men, which was arriving in the vicinity in the early days of September.

On today's date in 1862, a Confederate cavalry brigade under Gen. James R. Chalmers approached Munfordville, and unaware that they were outnumbered, demanded the surrender of the garrison. The next day, more Confederates arrived, bringing his force to 1,900. But unbeknownst to Chalmers, his was still too small of a force to take the fortified Union garrison.

In the meantime, Gen. Bragg was assembling his army. He had begun his invasion from Chattanooga in late August, in hopes that the presence of a Confederate army in Kentucky would encourage the state  to join the Confederacy. Until now, the Union army led by Gen. Don Carlos Buell, had remained further west, uncertain about what Bragg was up to and where he may be headed. When it became clear that he was heading north, Buell turned towards Munfordville. However, Bragg's forces arrived there first.

In only 2 weeks, Bragg had moved his army rapidly through Tennessee’s Sequatchie Valley, traveling through Pikeville to Sparta, and then on to Carthage, crossing the Cumberland River and heading for Glasgow and the Green River crossing at Munfordvile, Kentucky. On today's date, Bragg arrived with the balance of his army at Glasgow, some 30 miles east of Bowling Green, near what is known today as Mammoth Cave National Park. From here, Bragg was in a good strategic position to effectively cut off Buell’s line of retreat, both by road and by railroad, to Louisville.

In camp between Glasgow and Munfordville, with other elements of Bragg's army, was my great grandfather, Nathan Oakes, a private in the 32nd Mississippi Infantry, a volunteer regiment made up of nearly 1,000 men from tiny towns around Corinth, Mississippi. He and Great Uncle William Turner were in Company D, comprised of men from their hometown of Kossuth, Mississippi and nearby villages. Three hundred miles from home, these recruits were about to face their first organized battle, the attack on the Union garrison at Munfordville, also known as the Battle of Green River.

Source: War In Kentucky, James Lee McDonough

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