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.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bragg's army arrives at Morristown, 1862

The head of the column of Gen. Braxton Bragg's army began reaching Morristown, Tennessee, on today's date in 1862. The conditions of the march from Camp Dick Robinson, following the Battle of Perryville Kentucky on the 8th, had been brutal and disheartening for the troops. Finally, the men received much needed food, uniforms, and soap.

Soon, the army moved again, this time on the East Tennessee railroad to Chattanooga. From there the troops moved through the Sand Mountain gorge and down the Tennessee River to Bridgeport, Alabama, where they crossed the Tennessee River and moved north by train through the Crow Creek Gorge, through the Cumberland tunnel. The army proceeded on to its final destination, the Stones River Valley and the siege of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. By December, the 32nd Mississippi Regiment, in which Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes served, was at Shelbyville, about 25 miles south of the city.

On this date, Bragg received a summons to the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia, to give a report to his friend, President Davis, of his plans for the future of the army. He again left the army under the command of Gen. Leonidas Polk, with orders to take the army by rail to Chattanooga, and then on to Murfreesboro.

Somehow, Bragg was able to convince Richmond that any blame for losing Kentucky belonged with Gen. Polk. This will not be the only time that Bragg shifts blame to his subordinate general officers. While President Davis doesn't seem to have shared Bragg's assessment, nevertheless, he did not hold Bragg accountable for the loss. Sadly, blame shifting will continue through future campaigns, seriously impeding the army's effectiveness going forward.

In his invasion of Kentucky, Bragg's men had marched a thousand miles, had fought a bloody battle, and now are finally back where they started 2 months before. Despite their inordinate effort and sacrifice, Bragg's Kentucky invasion yielded little, if any, results.

Sources: The Army of Tennessee, Stanley F. Horn; Autumn of Glory, Thomas Lawrence Connelly; Record of Events for 32nd Mississippi Regiment

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