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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lowrey's Regiment at Wartrace, Tennessee

On this date in 1863, Gen. Hardee, with Cleburne's Division in the vanguard, moved his corps from Tullahoma, Tennessee, 12 miles north to Wartrace, about 20 miles south of Murfresboro. Cleburne will set up his headquarters at Wartrace, with his brigades—including Wood's in which Great Grandfather Oakes is serving—encamped around that village, and guarding the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad. Cleburne will use the next 2 months drilling his division and practice marksmanship.

My great grandfather's regimental commander, Col. Mark Lowrey, wrote that until this point in the war there had been little opportunity to drill and train his regiment. But now, he said, "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."

Some of Lowrey's enthusiasm may have been lost on the common soldier. One of Great Grandfather's comrades in his Co. D, Thomas Settle, wrote home (dated 3/27/13): "We are having a very good time now [that] we don't have much drilling to do. We have been having several Gen Reviews and Inspections but they are a mere matter of moon shine now." A few days later, however, Settle did concede in another letter that the drilling had paid off: "We have a much better drilled Army than when we arrived here."

Source: Library of Congress

Sources: Company D Return, March-April; The Third Battalion Mississippi Infantry and the 45th Mississippi Regiment, David Williamson; Mark P. Lowrey Autobiography"Settle Letters," a transcription of which was generously shared with me by descendant Raymond Settle

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