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.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Prepositioning for the Battle of Resaca

Having his plans for the defense of Dalton spoiled by Gen. William T. Sherman's attacks over the previous days along Rocky Face Ridge, and the enemy's movement around him, Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston was forced to give up his strong position and begin falling back to Resaca. On the morning of May 11, 1864, Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, in whose division Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes was serving, marched his men from Dug Gap on the Sugar Valley road to a new position 10 miles south, near Resaca. There Cleburne ordered his men, now the rear guard of the army, to build breastworks to defend against the enemy advancing in his direction.

Early morning on today's date in 1864, Cleburne's pickets were driven in by advancing Federal soldiers. His men reported a strong enemy division nearby. Cleburne prepared his man for the anticipated attack. However, the cavalry force opposing him chose to avoid a confrontation.

By now, Sherman had fortified Villanow and was massing his Federal troops in Snake Creek Gap. By noon, Sherman and most of his army had passed through the gap and were skirmishing with the Confederate rear guard along the small Camp Creek. In the meantime, Cleburne collected reconnaissance about the enemy and passed on the information.

Cleburne's men were able to hold up Sherman's advance until the remainder of Johnston's troops arrived at Resaca from Dalton.

Having planned to make a stand at Resaca, Johnston formed his army along a ridge west of town facing Gen. William T. Sherman's approaching army.

Sources: Pat Cleburne: Confederate General, Howell & Elizabeth Purdue; Stonewall of the West, Craig L. Symonds; Official Records, Vol. 38, Pt. 3

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