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.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bragg's army moves to Bardstown

On today's date in 1862, Gen. Braxton Bragg moved his Confederate army northeastward from Munfordville, through Lincoln’s birthplace at Hodgenville, then on past Gethsemane Abby towards Bardstown, Kentucky.

Bragg's Kentucky Campaign, 1862
Source: Civil War Trust
At Bardstown, Bragg left his army and rode to Lexington to counsel with Gen. Kirby Smith and arrange for the inauguration in Frankfort of Richard Hawes as Confederate governor. The inauguration was observed on October 4th. However, as the ceremonies were taking place, Federal troops began approaching the capital. The sounds of enemy shells interrupted Hawes’s address. The capital was quickly evacuated, and the new Confederate government of Kentucky spent the rest of the war in exile.

On the 25th, Bragg wrote to Richmond justifying his dubious actions at Munfordville: “For want of provisions it was impossible for me to… stay where I was [i.e., Munfordville], the population being nearly all hostile and the country barren and destitute, having been ravaged by the enemy.” With only 3 days provisions, Bragg said he had “marched on [Bardstown] (59 miles) and reached it after some privation and suffering.” The Kentuckians in large numbers choose not to support the Confederacy. Even if there had been a major military victory, it is doubtful that attitudes would have changed.

Civil War historian James Lee McDonough notes, "[Bragg's] soldiers were inspired by the capture of [Munfordville] and might well expect to find Buell's men correspondingly depressed." It is generally understood now that Bragg would have been in a good position to fight Buell at Munfordville, with likely success. But his failure to do so ended up being one of the biggest disappointments—and greatest lost opportunity—of his Kentucky Campaign.

Source: War In Kentucky, James Lee McDonough 

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