Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Alexander McCook was to provide a diversion for Crittenden's movement by attacking Liberty Gap with his division. As soon as Thomas left Hoover's Gap, McCook was to follow him out of Liberty Gap. To complete the move, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger would lead the Reserve Corps down the Shelbyville Pike, toward Confederate Gen. Leonidas Polk's Corps, to attract additional attention toward the area of Maj. Gen. David S. Stanley's all-day cavalry skirmish around Unionville. Granger was to build campfires to give the impression of a large infantry advance in that direction. His ruse succeeded in holding Polk at Shelbyville for 2 days.
About noon, Brig. Gen. Robert Mitchell was ordered to attack the Confederates at Middleton with his cavalry division and then to await support. Accordingly, Mitchell pulled back to Eagleville and turned east to attack Middleton. However, Mitchell came under attack by Confederates posted about a mile west of town, including 3 Confederate cavalry units, which forced him to fall back. Col. Robert Minty's cavalry brigade joined Mitchell's division, and the Federals pulled back northeast to Christiana on the main road from Murfreesboro to Shelbyville. So much for the Federal cavalry action on this date.
|Brig. Gen. St. John R. Liddell|
Cleburne, who by now was on the scene, personally ordered a withdrawal across the Wartrace Creek to the next line of hills about a mile back, where the rest of Liddell's men were waiting. Behind them, almost all the way to Bell Buckle, was a series of defensive ridges and narrow valleys. There the Confederates held their ground against the Union advance. Unfortunately, Cleburne's attempts to win back the gap throughout the next day were unsuccessful. Brig. Gen. S.A.M. Wood's Brigade, in which Great Grandfather Oakes was serving, provided protection for the Confederates as they fell back to Bell Buckle.
By the conclusion of the fighting, Liddell's troop losses were high. In his detailed after-action account he reported 120 casualties from the battle, 25 of whom died in the fighting at Liberty Gap. Others would die later as a result of wounds received here.
|Marker at Willow Mount Cemetery in Shelbyville, Tenn|
Source: Genealogy Junkie
|Col. John T. Wilder, USA|
1 Pocahontas was the birthplace of my great grandfather, Nathan R. Oakes, who was at this moment stationed near Liberty Gap. The Oakes family migrated south to Kossuth, Mississippi, where as a 16-year old, Great Grandfather Oakes enlisted in Co. D. of the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment, under Col. Mark. P. Lowrey. His uncle, Capt. F.S. Norman, commanded his company of volunteers. Serving alongside him was his future brother-in-law, William D. Turner.