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.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rosecrans begins his advance on Bragg

While Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg anticipated a Union advance on his position at Chattanooga, he readied his army in the belief that Rosecrans will take the northern route, crossing the Tennessee River north of the town. Expecting an attack from this direction, Bragg prepared for a protracted defense of Chattanooga to hold Rosecrans's advance for months if necessary, at least until reinforcements arrived for a decisive battle.

But Rosecrans prepared another plan that included a much more hazardous but faster route over the Cumberland Mountains, crossing the Tennessee much farther south. He sent 1 corps to feint north of Chattanooga. He assigned his other 3 corps to cross the Tennessee River west and south, across the ranges of Sand and Lookout Mountains, to threaten Bragg's railroad supply line southward. Rosecrans's bold plan to trap Bragg required his army to carry everything it would need for up to 25 days of fighting, if it came to that. Amazingly, he would accomplish his movement without Bragg figuring out what he was up to.

Source: Civil War Maps by Hal Jesperson

On today's date, a Sunday in 1863, Rosecrans started out over the Cumberland Mountains to cross the Tennessee River. If he is successful, his army will take Chattanooga, the gateway to East Tennessee and Northern Georgia, and either destroy Bragg's army or force him to retreat into Georgia. He's off to a good start, as Bragg is entirely unaware of his enemy's approach.

Sources: The Army of the Cumberland, Henry Martyn Cist; This Terrible Sound, Peter Cozens

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