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.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Chasing Van Dorn from Spring Hill

During the spring of 1863, with Bragg's Army of Tennessee entrenched around Tullahoma in Middle  Tennessee, the Confederate cavalry saw most of the action. The Federal force under Rosecrans at Franklin was determined to penetrate and defeat the cavalry force protecting Bragg's troops.

The surrender of Col. Coburn's force at Thompson Station on the 5th weakened the Federal forces and revealed the Confederates in such strong force on the immediate front that Union Gen. Gordon Granger at once ordered Gen. Absalom Baird's division to proceed by rail to Franklin. Granger moved his own headquarters there, and assumed the command in person.

On the 8th, Gen. Philip Sheridan's Division was ordered to the front to reconnoiter the Confederates' position. After Sheridan reached Franklin, the force gathering there was further increased by the arrival of Gen. Robert Minty's cavalry brigade plus another brigade from Nashville. Granger now had a sufficient force to attack Gen. Earl Van Dorn.

On today's date in 1863, Granger advanced his superior numbers upon Van Dorn's Corps encamped at Spring Hill, where Great-Great Grandfather David C. Neal was stationed with the 6th Tennessee Cavalry. Granger drove Van Dorn's Corps from Spring Hill, chasing the Confederates across Rutherford's Creek. A short skirmish ensued on the 10th, but due to the high and rising creek, the Union pursuit was broken off for the day.

On the 11th, Minty's and G. Clay Smith's brigades were ordered across the Rutherford, and prepared to engage the Confederate troops stationed nearby. But the Confederates withdrew, giving up the area along Columbia Pike to the town of Columbia to Federals.

Sources: The Army of the Cumberland, Henry Martyn Cist; Official Records, Vol. 33, Pt. 1

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