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, November 2, 2013

Hardee fortifies his position

During the early weeks of November 1983, with Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee headquartered on Missionary Ridge, the army's leadership fortified its positions overlooking Chattanooga and its enemy holed up there.

Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee
Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee, having been recently recalled from Mississippi, arriving on October 31, oversaw the arrangement and positioning of his divisions. Patrick R. Cleburne, in whose division Great Grandfather Oakes is serving, along with the divisions of Walker, Cheatham, and Stevenson, held a line running from Missionary Ridge to and including Lookout Mountain. Cleburne's men held the ridge, while Walker guarded the ground from the ridge to Chattanooga Creek. Cheatham's Division held the face of Lookout Mountain, and Stevenson's men defended Lookout Mountain itself.

At this point in the siege, the Confederate leadership anticipated an attack on Hardee's position, on the left of the army. Hardee made frequent reconnaissances with Bragg and his division commanders along his line. All agreed that their position at the mountain would be very difficult to defend against a superior enemy attack. Some Confederate cavalry and a few infantry pickets were all that stood between Hardee's divisions and the enemy.

Hardee set his men to work constructing breastworks. Fearing possible attack, in the first weeks of November Hardee hurried his men to complete a line of defense. By the third week in November, he had his men working day and night.

The urgency of the task was real: Elements of Union Gen. William T. Sherman's army are not far out and will arrive to reinforce Thomas in Chattanooga on the 14th.

Source: General William H. Hardee: Old Reliable, Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr.

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