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, June 26, 2013

Tullahoma Campaign, Day 4

Saturday, June 26, 1863, opened with more rain. Rivers and creeks had become torrents, and the mucky roads were nearly impassable.

Skirmishing continued near Liberty Gap, the sight of serious action on the 2 days previous, where Great Grandfather Oakes was stationed in Wood's Brigade. Twice during today's date, Union forces attempted to advance against Cleburne's Division at the gap, but neither attempt was successful. Although his ammunition had begun to run low, Cleburne's sharpshooters were able to keep up fire, picking off enemy cavalry with shots taken from the slopes 700 to 1,300 yards away. Overnight, Cleburne is ordered to withdraw his division to Tullahoma. He will continue to hold his position at Bell Buckle tomorrow only long enough to withdraw his men.

Monument to A.P. Stewart's Division
at Beech Grove Confederate Cemetery
At Hoover's Gap a few miles away, where Union forces were successful 2 days earlier, the fight became heated. At 10:00 AM, Union Gen. Rousseau's 3rd brigade advanced across a wheat field to pin down Gen. A.P. Stewart's Confederates there. Rousseau's 2 other brigades, plus Gen. John Brannon's 3rd division, swung around the Confederates's flank in order to cut them off from Fairfield. Outflanked, the Rebels retreated to their main line at Fairfield.

While the Yankees vigorously pursued, Stewart's men laid an ambush for them. About 2 miles from Hoover's Gap, Maj. Caswell's Georgia Sharpshooter Battalion charged and opened fire on the Federals. Their action slowed the Federal advance the rest of the day toward Fairfield, about 5 miles away.

Although the fighting had been going on for 4 days, Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg was completely unaware of the action on his right flank at Hoover's and Liberty Gaps. In effect, he had lost command and control of the entire right wing of his army under Gen. Hardee. The lack of information led Bragg to conclude that the fighting he saw at Shelbyville was the major Union movement, so he continued to focus his attention on Polk's Corps there. His ignorance will lead to failure at Tullahoma.

The loss of Hoover's Gap will soon lead to the loss of Middle Tennessee, setting the stage for the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman's March to the Sea a year later. It was also the beginning of the end of 2 military careers–Bragg's and Rosecrans's. Although overshadowed by the battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg, fought during the same time period, the importance and impact of Bragg's loss of Middle Tennessee cannot be denied.


Apparently, there is little to commemorate the battle that took place at Hoover's Gap. The Beech Grove Cemetery and Park, located between Interstate 24 and U.S. 41, is dedicated to those soldiers who fell at Hoover's Gap and Beech Grove. It also holds the remains of 50 unknown Confederate soldiers who were killed at the Battle of Hoover's Gap. After the war, former Confederate soldiers returned to the area to gather the remains of their fallen comrades who had been killed and buried in various locations around the area and rebury them in one place. A monument was erected there to remember all Confederates killed in the fighting at Hoover's Gap.

Source: Tullahoma: The 1863 Campaign for the Control of Middle Tennessee, Michael R. Bradley

No comments:

Post a Comment