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.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Battle of Kolb's Farm, 1864

Fearing becoming surrounded by Federal Gen. William T. Sherman's army, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston moved his Army of Tennessee to a new position straddling Kennesaw Mountain in order to protect his railroad supply line. While Federals fired on the Kennesaw line, Sherman sent James B. McPherson to attack Johnston’s right flank in an attempt to cut the railroad and force the Confederates off Kennesaw. From the 19th to the 21st, McPherson’s men fought a series of fierce skirmishes, but accomplished little.

Next Sherman extended his right wing by sending John Schofield's and Joseph Hooker's corps to envelop the Confederate flank and take Marietta. Johnston countered on the 22nd, by moving John B. Hood’s Corps from his right flank to the left to protect William Hardee's flank in the south where Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes was posted in Patrick Cleburne's Division.

Arriving in his new position at Mt. Zion Church on today's date in 1864, Hood ran into 2 Federal regiments and ordered an immediate attack. Forcing the Federals to withdraw, Hood ordered a pursuit, which quickly ran up against Schofield's and Hooker's entrenched position. Rather than pull back and without informing Johnston, Hood pressed his attack, but it was thwarted. He lost 1,000 men to a Union loss of less than 300.

Although Hood claimed a victory, his fight at Kolb’s Farm accomplished little. As historian Craig L. Symonds notes, "Hood had his moment of glory and reclaimed his reputation as an aggressive commander, but at a cost the Confederacy could ill afford." Hood's bold and rash attack was a harbinger of his policies to come after he takes command of the army in Atlanta.

Sources: War So Terrible, James Lee McDonough & James Pickett Jones; Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography, Craig L. Symonds; Official Records, Vol. 38, Pt. 1

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