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, December 30, 2012

The eve of battle

On this date, Monday, in 1862, Union Gen. McCook, leaving one brigade (Baldwin's) at Triune to cover his extreme right, moved forward with the remainder of his command on a country road known as the Bole Jack road toward Murfreesboro, reaching camp west of the Stones River late in the evening. From the Confederate army's movements he concluded that Gen. Braxton Bragg intended to give battle at Murfreesboro, and so arranged his troops accordingly.

Late that tonight while McCook was preparing his troops, Bragg called his generals, Hardee and Polk, to his headquarters to receive new orders. He had decided to seize the initiative and attack Rosecrans. Hardee was given overall tactical command during the attack, which was to begin at dawn on the 31st. Gen. Cleburne received his orders late in the afternoon of the 30th. Cleburne broke camp and began to march southward through a cold, pelting rain. He deployed his men in line of battle as best he could in the dark, after receiving guidance to his assigned position from Hardee’s staff officers. In the wet and pitch-darkness his men began removing their shoes, and many their trousers, in order to wade through the bone-chilling water of Stones River.

Like Bragg, Rosecrans's plan called for the battle to begin early on the morning of the 31st, by an advance of the army's left, wheeling to the right. Rosecrans expected to advance on Murfreesboro and get into the rear of Bragg's army, while Bragg intended to double back the Federal right across the Nashville Turnpike and cut off Rosecrans's retreat to Nashville.

Both armies await what will become the Battle of Murfreesboro, or the Battle of Stones River, which will begin tomorrow, December 31, 1862, and last through January 2, 1863.

Eve of the Battle of Murfreesboro, Dec. 30, 1863
Source: Civil War Maps by Hal Jespersen

Sources: The Army of the Cumberland, Henry Martyn Cist; Stonewall of the West, Craig L. Symonds; Civil War Times, 1861-1865, Daniel Wait Howe

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