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.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nerve-racking wait

On today's date, a Sunday in 1864, my Great Grandfather's division, Patrick R. Cleburne's, which had been temporarily attached to Gen. John B. Hood's Corps in the Battle of Pickett's Mill, was returned to Gen. William Hardee's Corps near Dallas, Georgia. It was assigned to the extreme left of the Confederate army, next to William Bate's Division. The battle lines were close. Men were naturally nervous, and each side was on high alert.

According to authors Howell and Elizabeth Purdue, shortly after midnight, the Union line opened with heavy musketry and cannon. Cleburne's and Bate's men instantly prepared to repeal an expected attack. The Federal fire continued until early morning, but no assault occurred. It was later learned that the Federals started firing because of a false report of a Confederate charge. What instigated the cannonade to follow was that one of Bate's men had mistakenly fired at a flash in the darkness, which turned out to be a firefly. His ball whizzed over the head of a Union picket who fired back, setting off shooting from both sides.

The stalemate will continue for a few more days until Gen. William T. Sherman will attempt a flanking move to cut off Gen. Joseph Johnston's rail line to Atlanta.

Sources: Pat Cleburne: Confederate General, Howell & Elizabeth Purdue; Stonewall of the West, Craig L Symonds

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