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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Special duty: Guarding the railroad

By November 24th, Hardee's and Polk's corps reached Bragg's headquarters at Tullahoma, Tennessee, prior to moving into position at Murfreesboro.

From November 26 to December 27, the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment was assigned to guard the bridges south of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to prevent Union Gen. Rosecrans from resupplying his army in Nashville. Col. W.H.H. Tison has been left in command of the regiment while Col. Mark P. Lowrey is recuperating at home in Mississippi from a wound received in the Battle of Perryville.*

From the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. 20, Part 2:
Special Orders, No. 1
Headquarters Hardee’s Corps

Shelbyville, November 26, 1862.

The Thirty-second Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Tison commanding, is detailed on special duty, to guard the stations and bridges on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, between Normandy and Fosterville stations. Colonel Tison will establish his headquarters at Wartrace.

* * * * * *

By command of Lieutenant-General Hardee:
T.B. Roy
Chief of Staff.

* In contrast to the hardships of the previous months in Kentucky, the regiment must have been faring much better. In a letter home (dated 12/4/12), one of Great Grandfather Oakes's comrades in Co. D, Thomas Settle, wrote: "I am quite well and have enjoyed better health since I wrote to you than I have ever done in all my life. The Boys all very often remarked that I am more fleshier than they ever saw me." Settle also comments on Col. Lowrey's absence and hopes that his commander will return from his recuperation with news from home.

Sources: Autumn of Glory, Thomas Lawrence Connelly; Official Records, Vol. 20, Part 2; "Settle Letters," a transcription of which was generously shared with me by descendant Raymond Settle

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Renamed the Army of Tennessee

On this date in 1862, Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Mississippi was renamed the Army of Tennessee. Currently, Gen. Braxton Bragg's army is facing Nashville to the northwest, arranged in a wide arc with Murfreesboro at the center. My great grandfather's Company D, in the 32 Mississippi Regiment in Buckner's Division, is stationed a little south at Tullahoma. The army is preparing to battle Gen. William S. Rosecrans's Army of the Cumberland.

While the Confederate army was positioned to oppose Rosecrans's force at Nashville, there were several skirmishes with the enemy, fought mainly by Brig. Gen. Joseph Wheeler's cavalry. Having been recently promoted to the rank of brigadier general, due in large part to his successful fighting in the Kentucky Campaign, Wheeler's appointment placed both Gens. Forrest's and Morgan's cavalry regiments under his command. Wheeler's cavalry is now attached to Hardee's Corps. It is on constant patrol between its army and the Federal lines at Nashville.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lowrey's Recuperation at home in Mississippi

Brig. Gen. Mark P. Lowrey
The commanding officer of Great Grandfather Oakes's regiment, the 32nd Mississippi, received a serious wound in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky on October 8th. As field medical care was limited, Col. Mark Perrin Lowrey was granted leave to go home for 8 weeks of recuperation. His daughter later recounted the touching reunion:
When [Lowrey] got within 30 miles of his home and family, he found it would not be safe for him to go to [his home in] Kossuth because hundreds of northern soldiers were located within sight of his home... he stopped at his brother's home eight miles south of Ripley, Miss., and sent his brother with an ox wagon after us to move us to a little cabin rented from Captain J. J. Guyton near my uncle's home... My uncle reached our home near Kossuth about 10:00 o'clock one bright moonlight night... As we turned from the 'clothes line' to go back into the house we saw the shadow of a man coming around the corner of the house. We met him at the door. Of course, our hearts leaped to our throats as we thought the man was a 'Yankee soldier.' As we came near the entrance, my uncle spoke, 'Is that you, Sarah? My mother, recognizing his voice, said, 'O, Calvin, what did you come for?' (realizing the danger of any southern man coming within the Yankee lines).
After explaining the reason for her uncle's furtive, nighttime visit, Lowrey's daughter continued her narrative,
Well, we worked all night that night as we must move that wagon and team before daylight. We packed up all the wearing clothes of the family and a few bed clothes and arranged with my aunt and grandmother to move into our house... At 3:00 o'clock the next morning we had every child up and dressed and loaded into the wagon... At sunrise my uncle with his wagon load of [seven] children, and my mother who was in her buggy with two children, were three miles from the enemy's pickets... About 4:00 o'clock the second afternoon we drove through Ripley, Miss. As we started down the hill leaving town, behold, Father was on his war horse coming to meet us! As soon as we saw him we rolled out of the wagon and ran down the hill. He alighted from his horse and started up the hill, but had to let us all hug the same side so as to keep us off his wounded arm. Never were seven children so happy...
We reached our uncle's home after dark... the next day we moved to a little three room cabin two miles from my uncle's house.  The neighbors fixed us up for house keeping until we could send back for some of our possessions...
When General Lowrey had recovered sufficiently from his wound to re-enter the war, he called his family together before his departure [probably in December 1862] and read the 121st Psalm, prayed, bade them good-bye and departed... This Psalm is a most precious passage to the family...
Psalm 121 (King James Version)
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. 
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. 
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. 
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. 
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Col. Lowrey, who was also a pastor before and after the war, returned safely to his command to face the Federal army again at Nashville. In other documents, I have learned that Lowrey read and preached many times to his men from the Psalms and other Bible passages. What a comfort it must have been to have such a godly warrior in command.