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, October 9, 2013

President Davis visits the army

Confederate President Jefferson Davis arrived late at night on this date in 1863 to visit Bragg's Army of Tennessee. His intentions were to see the condition of the army and to follow up on petitions made for Bragg's removal as commander-in-chief.* This is the second time Davis visited the army under similar circumstances.

Davis met with the army's leading generals with Bragg present. Each confirmed his belief that Bragg had mismanaged the army after Chickamauga and that a change in leadership was absolutely essential.

On the 10th, Davis visited the line of entrenched troops around Chattanooga. That evening he stepped out on the porch of Bragg's headquarters and addressed the assembled officers and soldiers. On the 11th, Davis called a council of the senior staff to develop a plan for Chattanooga. He departed on the 13th.

The end result of the president's visit was that Davis continued his support of Bragg and retained him in his position as the army's Commander-in-chief. But there were some changes made in his high command: D.H. Hill was relieved of command and his corps (Great Grandfather Oakes's) was given to John C. Breckinridge; Leonidas Polk was sent to Mississippi to take William J. Hardee's command, while Hardee was brought back to replace Polk; Nathan B. Forrest was sent to Mississippi. The shake-up had some benefits, but overall it hurt the effectiveness and morale of the Rebel army encircling the enemy at Chattanooga.

* Relations between Bragg and his subordinates had become so bad following Chickamauga that 12 of his senior generals signed a petition calling for Bragg's removal. 

Sources: This Terrible Sound, Peter Cozzens; Mountains Touched With Fire, Wiley Sword; The Papers of Jefferson Davis, October 1863-August 1864, Jefferson Davis

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