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.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Watching the enemy | Pat Cleburne's Division

Confederate General D.H. Hill’s Corps, which includes Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes's division (Patrick Cleburne's), is now concentrated at LaFayette, Georgia, while the rest of the Bragg's army is in position near Lee & Gordon’s Mills 14 miles to the north.

The next assignment for Cleburne's Division's is to guard several key passes or "gaps" through the mountainous area behind Bragg's army. On assignment in several of these same gaps is another ancestor, Great-Great Grandfather David Crockett Neal, whose 6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment in Wharton's Division has been busy obstructing the gaps to slow the enemy's advance.1 

Thirty-two miles south of Chattanooga, a spur from Lookout Mountain projects to the northeast and then veers north. Known as Pigeon Mountain, the spur continues for nearly 20 miles, paralleling Lookout Mountain. McLemore’s Cove, the origin of Chickamauga Creek, is the valley between Lookout and Pigeon Mountains. The cove forms a V-shaped cul-de-sac about 5 miles wide. The only outlets are a few gaps in Pigeon and Lookout Mountains. Chickamauga Creek, starting at the south end of McLemore’s Cove, flows north through the valley. Dug Gap crosses Pigeon Mountain 4 miles northwest of LaFayette. Two miles northwest of Dug Gap lies Davis’s Crossroads. Steven’s Gap and Cooper’s Gap, 2 miles apart, ascend Lookout Mountain.

Into these passes that dissect Pigeon Mountain Cleburne sent elements of Wood’s Brigade, Great Grandfather Oakes's unit.2 In some of these gaps, the soldiers felled trees and set up other obstacles to slow any Union advance through them. From each of these gaps Wood's Regiment will keep a watchful eye on enemy activity in McLemore’s Cove, while the rest of the division remains at LaFayette.

Source: The War of the Rebellion Atlas

About midnight on today's date, Bragg received confirmation from Wharton's scouts that 1 Federal corps (McCook's) was in Will's Valley. Other reports showed that Thomas's Corps was en route to McLemore's Cove via Steven's and Cooper's Gaps. Other Federal units were moving toward Dug Gap toward LaFayette. Effectively, Bragg believed he had constructed a trap for his enemy. His army now outnumbers the pursuing Rosecrans, whose army is still divided into 3 separate corps. Bragg is preparing to defeat the widely separated Union forces one group at a time, and he will start tomorrow with Thomas at Davis Crossroads.

Meanwhile in Virginia, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s divisions are today departing from Lee’s army by railroad to reinforce Bragg. However, they are forced to take an indirect route and won't begin reaching Bragg until the 17th.

1 Wharton's Division was assigned to watch the lower passes in Lookout Mountain on a long front from Gadsden, Alabama, to Rome, Georgia.
2The passes in Pigeon mountain assigned to Wood were Dug Gap, Catlett's Gap (2 miles north of Dug Gap), and Bluebird Gap (1 1/2 miles south of Dug Gap).

Sources: Pat Cleburne:  Confederate General, Howell & Elizabeth Purdue; Stonewall of the West, Craig L. Symonds; Autumn of Glory, Thomas Lawrence Connelly; The 6th Tennessee Cavalry (unpublished manuscript), John F. Walter; Official Records, Vol. 30, Pt. 4

No comments:

Post a Comment