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 16, 2013

Rosecrans is replaced

Although he doesn't yet know it, on this date in 1863, Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans lost his command of the Army of the Cumberland, following his disastrous and humiliating defeat on the Chickamauga battlefield on September 20. The Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee were reorganized into The Military Division of the Mississippi, and placed by President Lincoln under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant. In the same order, Gen. George Henry Thomas, the "Rock of Chickamauga," was assigned to take Rosecrans's command.*

Rosecrans learned of  the order on October 19, hours after his subordinates became aware of it. He immediately made arrangements to leave Thomas in command, then departed Chattanooga that night for his home in Cincinnati to await further orders.

Rosecrans was soon given command of the Department of Missouri from January to December 1864, but ultimately he had no further major role in the War Between the States. Rosecrans retired from military service in March 1867.

In 1864, Rosecrans was a serious consideration as Lincoln's second term running mate, which he declined. In 1868 he was appointed US Ambassador to Mexico, but he was quickly replaced when Grant became president. In the postwar years Rosecrans became involved in the railroad business, and later was elected to Congress in 1880. Remaining in office until 1885, he continued to bicker with Grant over events of the war. He served as Register of the Treasury from 1885-1893, under President Grover Cleveland. Rosecrans died at his ranch in Redondo Beach, California, on March 11, 1898. In 1908, his remains were re-interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

* Apparently, in order to permit Grant the decision whether to replace Rosecrans, two orders were actually written, either of which Grant was free to act upon. One retained Rosecrans as commander, while a second relieved him and placed Thomas in command.

Sources: The Army of the Cumberland, Henry Martyn Cist; Mountains Touched With Fire, Wiley Sword;  Civil War Trust

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