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, June 25, 2013

Tullahoma Campaign, Day 3 | Pat Cleburne's Division

Friday, the third day of the 1863 Tulla-homa campaign, opened on a wet but mostly quiet field of operation. It had rained almost continuously over-night. There was a little cavalry action. Union cavalry rode to the Shelbyville Pike and encountered a force of Con-federate cavalry under Gen. John A. Wharton, plus one of Gen. Polk's brigade, and a battery. The Rebels forced the Federals back to Christiana. Also, some dueling between the opposing artillery took place at Hoover's Gap, the site of yesterday's loss for the Confederates. However, the action did not substantially alter the positions of either rival force.

Most of the important action, and certainly the the severest fighting on today's date was at Liberty Gap, one of several gaps in the Highland Rim that Union Gen. Rosecrans needed to seize in order to defeat Gen. Bragg or to drive him from Middle Tennessee.

Brig. Gen. St. John Liddell’s Brigade of Arkansaians defended against the enemy's advance, elements of Brig. Gen. Alexander McCook's corps. While the Rebels put up a furious defense in pouring rain, Gen. Patrick Cleburne was compelled to order his outnumbered and outflanked Confederates to withdraw out of the pass, across the Wartrace Creek to the next line of hills about a mile in his rear. There they took up a defense on the ridges where they held their ground against the Federals.

Hills marking the entrance to Liberty Gap, now State Route 269
Source: TCWPA
Following yesterday's action at Liberty Gap, Cleburne ordered Wood's Brigadein which my great grandfather served in Lowrey's 32nd Mississippi Regimentto reinforce Liddell. However, in the narrow gap there was not enough room to deploy both units. So Liddell positioned Wood's men behind his brigade as backup.

Although McCook's corps was avail-able in force, he had orders not to attack unless there was a Confederate collapse. Liberty Gap was to be a feint supporting what yesterday had be-come the main Federal thrust at Hoover's Gap.

Between the 2 opposing forces in Liberty Gap was an open field, which varied in length from 500 to 2,000 yards. To the west of Bell Buckle Road, as Liberty Pike was called after passing the gap, was a slight hill in the middle of the open field. To the east, Wartrace Creek flowed along the foot of the hills occupied by the Confederates, creating a bluff a few feet in height and adding to the strength of the position.

The fields of Liddell's counterattack
Source: TCWPA
The Confederates made several attacks in the cornfield throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Each was repulsed. About 3:00 PM, the Confederates made another advance, which lasted for more than an hour, until the Confederates fell back to their original position.

It was now the Federals turn to attack. They advanced across the cornfield, slowed by mud to their ankles. Confederate sharpshooters picked off many of the advancing troops. Three times the Federals surged across the field and were driven back by Col. Daniel Govan's men. In a fourth attack, Liddell's men, supporting Govan, held their position against the Federal advance. However, by now, darkness was falling, along with more rain. Both sides settled into position for another uncomfortable night on the muddy fields and slopes of Liberty Gap.

Marker at Willow Mount Cemetery in Shelbyville, TN
to Commemorate the fallen from Cleburne's Division
Source: HIghwayman64

Sources:  Tullahoma: The 1863 Campaign for the Control of Middle Tennessee, Michael R. Bradley; Official Records, Vol. 23, Pt. 1

No comments:

Post a Comment