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, April 10, 2013

The First Battle of Franklin, 1863

The 1863 Battle of Franklin, Tennessee was fought on this date, 150 years ago, between 2 opposing cavalry forces. The 6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Great-great Grandfather David Crockett Neal's unit, had a significant role in the action.

The engagement began as a reconnaissance in force led by Confederate cavalry Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn against a Union force commanded by Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger. Van Dorn, with about 6,000 Confederates, advanced northward from Spring Hill along the Columbia pike on this date in 1863, making contact with Federal skirmishers just outside the town of Franklin. Van Dorn’s attack was so weak that when Granger received a false report that nearby Brentwood was under attack, he sent away most of his cavalry thinking that the Confederate general was undertaking a diversion. When the truth became known that there was no threat to Brentwood, Granger decided to attack Van Dorn. However, he soon was surprised to learn that a subordinate, Brig. Gen. David S. Stanley's cavalry brigade had already done so without orders. Stanley had crossed the Harpeth River at Hughes’s Ford, behind the Confederate right rear. His cavalry attacked and captured a Tennessee battery on the Lewisburg Road but lost it when Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest counterattacked, breaking the Federal assault. Stanley’s troopers quickly withdrew across the Big Harpeth River.

This incident in his rear caused Van Dorn to cancel his operations and withdraw to Spring Hill, leaving the Federals in control of the area.

The Federal loss was 10 killed, 23 wounded and 51 taken prisoner. The Confederate casualties were 5 killed, 32 wounded and 33 captured or missing.

Sources: 6th Tennessee Cavalry (unpublished manuscript), John F. Walter; CWSAC Battle Summaries

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