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, December 27, 2012

Getting into position

As a great battle neared, the 4th Brigade, under command of Brig. Gen. S.A.M. Wood, was stationed at Triune, 4 miles north of College Grove, on the Nashville and Shelbyville turnpike. My great grandfather's 32nd Mississippi (Lowrey's Regiment), which was a part of Wood's force, was a few miles away at Wartrace, guarding bridges and supporting Gen. Wharton's cavalry force, as Rosecrans's troops advanced toward it on its way to Murfreesboro. According to a regimental soldier's recollection, Lowrey's 32nd Regiment was ordered to Murfreesboro on this Saturday in 1862, although according to Lowrey, the regiment did not participate in the first day of the battle.

Here are the events as they unfolded for Wood's force in the battle.

General Cleburne reports:
Early on the morning of the 27th, I received orders from [Gen. Hardee] to take up position on the turnpike about 1 mile north of my encampment. While making this disposition, I received orders from General Hardee to move the three brigades with me to Murfreesborough by the routes previously decided upon; also that Wood’s brigade would remain at Triune and assist General Wharton’s cavalry to retard the farther advance of the enemy.

For proceedings of Wood’s brigade under this order, I respectfully refer you to the report of Brig. Gen. S.A.M. Wood, herewith transmitted.
Gen. Wood's report continues the narrative of events prior to the battle: 
On the morning of the 28th, General Hardee ordered me to form line of battle north of Murfreesborough and east of Stone’s River, my line to face north, its left resting on the river, its right near the Lebanon turnpike, 800 or 1,000 yards in rear of a line already occupied by Breckinridge’s division.
Wood’s brigade, falling back slowly before General McCook’s army corps, impending his advance wherever the opportunity offered, finally reached Stone’s River and rejoined the division on the morning of the 29th.
I lay, inactive, in line of battle until the evening of the 30th, when I received orders to move from the right to the left of the army. Arriving in the fording place on Stone’s River, I received orders to remain there until General Hardee had examined the ground and determined my position. It was dark when staff officers were sent to order me forward and show me my position. The passage of the river in the night was attended with many difficulties, and my whole division was not in position before midnight. As well as I could judge from the camp-fires, my line was a prolongation to the left of Cheatham’s line, and was 400 or 500 yards in rear of McCown’s division.”
Gen. Hardee then ordered that the brigades should be ready to attack the enemy at 4:30 AM. The narrative continues with his report:
Before daylight I formed line, placing Polk’s brigade, with Calvert’s battery, on the right; Johnson’s brigade, with Darden’s battery, in the center, and Liddell’s brigade, with the Warren Light Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Shannon, on the left. Wood’s brigade I placed a short distance in rear of Polk’s. This brigade had no battery in the fight, its battery (Semple’s, of six Napoleon guns) having been detached the day before to support Hanson’s brigade, of Breckinridge’s division, and having remained with that brigade on the right of the army.
Sources: Corinth Information DatabaseOfficial Records, Vol. 20, Part 1; Autumn of Glory, Thomas Lawrence Connelly

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