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.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Winter Quarters for Bragg's army at Dalton | Tunnel Hill

Following an astounding victory on the 27th over Federal Maj. Gen. Hooker's army at Ringgold Gap, Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne moved his division to its winter quarters at Tunnel Hill, about halfway between Ringgold and the town of Dalton, where the rest of Braxton Bragg's army is encamped. Together with Gen. Joseph Wheeler's cavalry, Cleburne is tasked by Bragg to guard the army from any Federal advance from Ringgold. Cleburne's men, including Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes's 32nd Mississippi Regiment, guarded the crest of Tunnel Hill and the wagon road to Dalton. In time, Cleburne's men were able to construct crude log huts complete with fireplaces to keep warm through the approaching winter. They will remain encamped here into February of next year.

Area of the Confederate encampment around Dalton,
Georgia, during the winter of 1863-1864
The Confederate headquarters was in Dalton, Georgia, a small town at the junction of the Western & Atlantic and the Georgia Railroads. It was a good defensive position, protected by the Rocky Face Ridge that ran about 12 miles from north to south. About 3 miles from the northern end of the ridge, and 3 miles northeast of Dalton, the Mill Creek and the railroad cut through the ridge at Mill Creek Gap (or Buzzard Roost). About 4 miles south of the gap was another pass through Rocky Face known as Dug's Gap. The road ran through Dug's Gap to the village of Villanow, about 14 miles southwest of Dalton.

After its defeat at Ringgold Gap on the 27th, Federal Gen. U.S. Grant decided to break off pursuit of the Confederates. His attention now was focused on reinforcing Gen. Ambrose Burnside at Knoxville, presently under siege by Gen. James Longstreet's Confederates. On today's date in 1863, Longstreet unwisely launched an attack, which was repulsed with heavy loses on the Rebel side.

In the meantime, Grant sent Gen. W.T. Sherman with 25,000 Union troops from Chattanooga to assist Burnside. Longstreet was forced to withdraw and soon abandoned Eastern Tennessee for Virginia, his one opportunity for independent command ending in failure.

Tunnel Hill, Georgia Cir. 1905
Source: Georgia Archives
Cleburne’s Division went into winter camp at another “Tunnel Hill,” this one halfway between Ringgold and Dalton, 9 miles away. The winter passed with relatively few incidents. Cleburne had a log structure built that became a military school for his division. Time passed in drilling and instruction of the troops in preparation for the engagements that would come in May of 1864.

In the organization of the Army of Tennessee, on December 10, temporarily commanded by Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee following Bragg's resignation, the 32nd and 45th Mississippi Consolidated Regiment was commanded by Col. Aaron B. Hardcastle. The regiment remained in Brig. Gen. Mark Lowrey’s Brigade of Cleburne’s Division, in Hardee’s Corps (commanded by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Cheatham). Also in the Brigade are the 16th Alabama (Maj. Frederick A. Ashford), 33rd Alabama (Col. Samuel Adams), 45th Alabama, Lieut. Col. H. D. Lampley), and the 15th Battalion Mississippi Sharpshooters (Capt. Daniel Coleman).

Sources: The Third Battalion Mississippi Infantry and the 45th Mississippi Regiment, David Williamson; Pat Cleburne: Confederate General, Howell & Elizabeth Purdue; Official Records, Vol. 31, Pt. 3

No comments:

Post a Comment