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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lowrey's Regiment takes a side-trip to Huntsville

The 32nd and 45th Mississippi (consolidated), spent the first weeks of March traveling by rail cars between Tullahoma, Chattanooga, and Huntsville, Alabama. One of the highlights for the men of Wood's Brigade was to put on a review for the benefit of several ladies visiting from Northern Alabama.

Leaving Tullahoma on today's date in 1863, the regiment arrived at Huntsville and went into camp 1 mile from town. The regiment stayed there for another week before returning to Tullahoma.

Source: The Third Battalion Mississippi Infantry and 45th Mississippi Regiment: A Civil War History, David Williamson; Huntsville Historical Review, Vol 26, No. 2. 1999: Transcription of Capt. Daniel Coleman Diary, Univ. North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Friday, February 1, 2013

Holding on at Tullahoma

Confederate lines at Tullahoma following the retreat
from the Battle of Stones River
Source: War of the Rebellion Atlas
Following the withdrawal of Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee from the Battle of Murfreesboro/Stones River, the Confederates began digging in to hold their position around Tullahoma, Tennessee. Soldiers, including my great grandfather in the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment, constructed earthworks and fortifications, part of a complex system of defensive works around the town.

One of the enemies confronting the army now was disease. On both sides of the conflict, disease was a worse foe than the enemy. Soldiers not only succumbed to infected wounds, but also to diseases for which no treatment was available. Poor supplies, contaminated water, and unhygienic conditions encour-aged illness. During the war, nearly twice as many soldiers were killed by disease than lost their lives in battle.

Division General Patrick Cleburne was a leader who attended to the defense and safety of his command, which included the 32nd Mississippi. He insisted upon cleanliness in the camp, and he saw to it that the men’s needs for food and medical care were met in every way possible. No doubt this was one of the reasons he was so admired and respected by the men who served under him.

Cleburne also insisted upon military discipline and obedience to orders. Part of maintaining discipline in his division included regular drills, held daily, except on Sundays. My great grandfather's regimental leader, Col. Mark Lowrey, wrote about training his regiment during this period:
Early in 1863, at Tullahoma, the 45th Mississippi regiment was consolidated with mine [32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment], and I was placed in command of the consolidated regiments. Up to this time I had but little opportunity to drill my regiment, but at Tullahoma, in the spring of 1863 we drilled for several months, and my regiment became very proficient in drill. In an inspection by Gen. Hardee of each regiment of Wood's brigade, drilling separate, my regiment was pronounced by him the best drilled regiment of the brigade, and the regiment was complimented in a general order.
Regular training and drill, in addition to improved living standards, went a long way in lifting morale and preparing the men for the coming Spring campaign in Middle Tennessee.
Sources: Pat Cleburne: Confederate General, Howell and Elizabeth Purdue; Mark P. Lowrey Autobiography