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.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Battle of Utoy Creek, 1864

The Battle of Utoy Creek was fought from August 5-7, 1864. While it did not involve Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne's Division, posted at East Point, it was an important battle for holding Gen. John B. Hood's vital supply line to his Army of Tennessee.

Union Gen. William T. Sherman so far had been successful at besieging Hood's army behind its fortifications encircling Atlanta. Although a series of battles and skirmishes had already been fought, Sherman was intent on weakening Hood's army by attacking his railroad lines into the city, thereby hastening the end of his long siege.

After failing to cut off Hood's left flank at the Battle of Ezra Church on July 28, a frustrated Sherman planned to make another attempt to extend his right flank in order to take the railroad between East Point and Atlanta. He ordered Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's army to Utoy Creek to join Maj. Gen. John M. Palmer's corps in assaulting the Confederate position there.

On the morning of today's date in 1864, Schofield crossed his forces over the creek. However, due to Confederate resistance, the maneuver took the entire day. The delay gave the Rebels time to strengthen their defenses before the main attack on the 6th.

The Federals crossed the Sandtown Road and moved through rough terrain and up a steep incline. There they encountered the well-entrenched positions defended by Kentucky’s famed Orphan Brigade of Maj. Gen, William B. Bate’s Division. The fierce fighting by Bate's men drove the Yankees back with heavy losses. Later that afternoon, 1 of Schofield’s divisions managed to flank Bate out of his position, but the Confederates fell back to a new line of prepared defenses closer to the railroad.

On the 7th, the Union troops moved toward the main Confederate line and entrenched. They remained there until late August.

The Battle of Utoy Creek, finally forced Sherman into abandoning further attempts to outflank the Confederates on his right.

Sources: CWSAC Battle Summaries; Atlanta, Jacob D. Cox; Official Records, Vol. 38

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