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.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cleburne's Division moves to Lee & Gordon’s Mills

In the late afternoon of today's date in 1863, Gen. Patrick Cleburne's Division of Hill's Corps, led the army in its march southward down the LaFayette Road into Georgia. The Army of Tennessee is abandoning its hold at Chattanooga and the state. Marching from Chattanooga, the soldiers passed through the village of Rossville at the foot of Missionary Ridge, and then on through Rossville Gap toward the Lee & Gordon's Mills. Cleburne's Division bivouacked on the west side of the Chickamauga Creek near Lee & Gordon’s Mills. Tomorrow morning, Hill's Corps will continue on south to to concentrate at LaFayette about 14 miles away.

The army had just marched over ground that, in less than 2 weeks, will become the Chickamauga battlefield during the bloodiest fighting of the war.

Lee & Gordon's Mills, 1863
Source: National Archives

Lee & Gordon's Mills is located about 14 miles south of Chattanooga, on the west bank of the Chickamauga Creek. The mill was built by James Gordon in 1836. It served as the first general store in the area. A blacksmith shop was located nearby, and the stagecoach and mail passed twice each week. During the Battle of Chickamauga, the mill first served as Bragg's headquarters. Then on September 10, Bragg moved his headquarters south to Lafayette, Georgia, and Union troops occupied the mill and surrounding area the next day. Skirmishes between the opposing armies occurred September 13-18, with the major Battle of Chickamauga drawing the Federal troops to the north on September 19-20. The mill next served as a headquarters for Wheeler's Cavalry Corps, but was recaptured in the winter of 1863 by Union troops.

The wartime mill burned in 1867. Shortly thereafter, James Lee, a partner in the mill, rebuilt it on the same site, which still stands today. The mill was operated by different owners until 1967, and stood empty and neglected until 1993, when Frank Pierce purchased the mill and restored it to operating condition and rebuilt the dam. Today the picturesque mill is a local attraction and houses a museum.

Sources: Stonewall of the West, Craig L. Symonds; Pat Cleburne: Confederate General, Howell & Elizabeth Purdue; Official Records, Vol. 30, Pt. 4; Huntsville Historical Review, Vol 26, No. 2. 1999: Transcription of Capt. Daniel Coleman Diary, Univ. North Carolina at Chapel Hill

No comments:

Post a Comment