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, September 27, 2013

A 32nd Mississippi Infantry soldier's perspective of Chickamauga

I have a great fondness for soldiers' firsthand accounts of military action and aftermath. Theirs are the personal perspectives and remembrances of the struggle and tragedy of battle, which is often lost in the official reports and general accounts written later.

Sgt. Thomas Benjamin Settle of the 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment, was one of Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes's comrades in Co D, posted on this date in 1863, on Missionary Ridge. I am very grateful to his descendant, Raymond Settle, for sharing this letter1 that "Ben" sent home just a week after the bloody Battle of Chickamauga. With apologies to Sgt. Settle, I've taken a few liberties with the punctuation and formatting of his letter to make it easier on the modern reader.
Camp Near Chattanooga Tenn
Sept The 27th 1863
Mr David Settle
Kind Father,
I take the present opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you hear from me.  I am in fine health and in better spirits than I have been for some Time.
We have had a hard fight near this place. It commenced on the nineteenth of this month and ended on the Twentyeth [sic]. We had a very hard fight, lost a great many men but succeded in driving the enemy from the field but they fought very stubbornly all the while but our men went to the field determined to drive the enemy back. And they fought with that determination.
The enemy is at Chattanooga. They have that place well fortified and we will have to devise some other means besides fighting to get them from this place. I was out on Picket in three hundred yards of the Yankies [sic] all night. They were busy building breast works all night. So was our men. We have a decided advantage of the Yankies [sic] here. I think if we can get them routed from this place and can follow them up we will clear North Mississippi of the Yankies [sic]. I fear that it will be a long time before we have peace but I believe it will come some day. But I dont know whether I will live to see it or not.
My time in this Regt is half out and I have been well blessed so far with health and in being spared from being cut down in Battle as many of my comrades have. I have been in the service over two years and have not been in but two fights yet. I have been in several Skermishes [sic] but have not been in but two regular Engagements and came out safe without a scratch.
We have one of the Bravest Colonels in the world he is not afraid of minnie balls nor anything else... Hall2 was in this engagement. He stayed at his post all the time and fought very bravely. Some of our Boys did not fight as well as I thought they would but it was a very dangerous place and they were afraid of getting hurt. They were none of your acquaintenance that flickered. They stood square.
Thom Webster poor fellow was killed on Sunday. Very early after he got into the fight he was shot in the right breast died instantly. He was a noble young man. He was liked by every man that knew him in the Regiment but poor fellow he is gone. The others that were killed you were not acquainted with them. They were all good soldiers. The wounded was G. F. Rodison very slight. _.G. Lidden3 very slight Elerson Walker4 also very slight G.W. Carter, B.B. [Bailey] and Jefferson [Murley] all slight. Several of them are still with the company.
Well I reckon you are tired of such news as this. I was sorry to hear of Uncle Bens misfortunes. I know it goes very hard with him but many others have fared the same way.
Well Father I would send some money home but I fear that Confederate money will play out as soon as the war closes and I would loose it entirely. I will try to buy something that will do me some good. I have fifty Dollars on hand and will draw some more this evening. Uncle Sam is in fine health. He just left here and gone to see some of the Boys in the 9th South Carolina Regt. They are here. He sends his Love to you all.
I will have to close. Give my Love to all the family and except [sic] the same. And Believe me as ever your son until Death,
T. Ben Settle
[ P.S] I hope my dear little sister has recovered her health long before this.
[P.P.S.] Tell mother I have not forgotten her. I think of you all every Day.

1Sometime after sending me his transcription of Thomas Settle's letters pertaining to Co D, the "Settle Letters" were published on the Fanin County TxGen Website, where they are now available.
2He may refer to Sgt. Maj. Andrew Jackson Hall, who was promoted to 2nd Lt. after the battle and transferred to Col. Lowrey's staff.
3He probably refers to Pvt. J. O. Liddon who was in Co. D.
4He may refer to Pvt. Alexander A. Walker who was in Co. D.

Source: "Settle Letters" transcript by Raymond Settle. The original letters are part of the Settle Family Collection, 1860-1864, in the University of Mississippi Department of Archives and Special Collections.


  1. Sir, in Ben Settle's letter after Chicamauga, he mentioned Jeff Murley as being slightly wounded, do you have any other mentions of Jeff Murley, he is my great grandfather, also, I am related to the Settle's(Suttle's) through my grandmother, Minnie Myrtle Bartlett Murley, her father James K. Bartlett was C. H 34th Miss was shot and captured at Lookout Mountain 11/24/63 and sent to Rock Island Prison for the duration!

    Larry Murley

    1. Sorry, Larry. About all I know him about I found in the Settle Letters, now available online. Do you have his service records?