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, September 2, 2014

The Second Battle of Lovejoy's Station, 1864

Following the Battle of Jonesboro from August 31st to September 1st in 1864, and the loss of his railroad, Gen. John B. Hood's Army of Tennessee withdrew from Atlanta, south to join William Hardee's Corps at Lovejoy’s Station. Trainloads of wounded and supplies were being transported from Atlanta through the station and on to Griffin.

Source: House Divided

On today's date in 1864, there was fighting with the enemy all along the Flint River to McDonough. Union Gen. J. M. Schofield followed after the retreating army, probing the Confederate defenses. On September 3rd, he confronted Confederate Gen. Stephen D. Lee's Corps at the Flint River, along and northwest of Lee’s Mill Road. Lee's men engaged in heavy skirmishing in this action, defending the Confederate position there.*

On the same day, my Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes, withdrew from Jonesboro with Mark P. Lowrey's Brigade in Patrick Cleburne's Division of Hardee's Corps, arriving near the same railroad station. Hardee's troops, about 10,000, form a line of battle along a low ridge called Cedar Bluffs, running east to west. About 2 PM, the Federals approached Hardee's line. By late afternoon, they had repulsed the Federal attack, directed in person by Gen. William T. Sherman. Gen. Lowrey reported the action of his brigade:
I arrived one mile east of Lovejoy’s Station, upon the McDonough road, at 6 o’clock on the morning of the 2nd of September. I formed line, with Mercer’s brigade upon my left and Granbury’s upon my right. The general direction of my line was east and west. At 10 a. m. I had my line formed in single rank, and went to throwing up breast-works. At 3 p. m. the enemy made their appearance in front of my pickets. A sharp skirmish commenced, which was kept up until 4 p. m. The enemy advanced upon my picket-line with a strong line of skirmishers and two lines of battle; drove in my pickets, broke the picket-line to my right, and captured some of my pickets. The ground was so situated that the enemy, after breaking the picket-line to my right, was in rear of some of my pickets before they could be observed by them. After breaking my picket-line, they made a charge upon my works (they not being completed) with their first line, coming within 250 yards of my works, but were handsomely repulsed. They attempted to bring up a second line, but with no better success than the first. From their graves, that were in my front, and from the report of two officers from the brigades that were captured upon the picket-line (who have since been exchanged), their loss was very heavy, considering the time that we were engaged. The officers captured report that their pickets wounded 1 brigadier-general and several line officer and privates...

My pickets fought the enemy, driving back the skirmish line, and until their line of battle was within forty steps of their barricades and in rear of a part of my picket-line. My loss was 1 killed, 9 wounded, and 39 missing.
With Atlanta now in Federal hands, Gen. Sherman decided to conclude his campaign, which began on May 7, near Dalton in the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge. He will now devise other plans for the destruction of the Southern homeland. On the 3rd, he telegraphed Washington the famous words, "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won." Almost immediately, he cruelly expelled the citizens of that city and transformed it into a military garrison.

On the 3rd and 4th, Hardee's Corps at Lovejoy Station was joined by 2 other corps, Lee's and A.P. Stewart's. Deciding not to press his advantage, on the 6th, Sherman withdrew his force to Atlanta. Had he wanted to, he likely could have dealt a decisive blow here to Hood's army. On the 8th, Hardee moved back to Jonesboro.

By the conclusion of Sherman's 1864 Atlanta Campaign, the Army of Tennessee had lost upwards of 9,000 men. Sherman sustained about 24,000 casualties. Of course, there was incalculable destruction of civilian life and property over the 2 months of near constant fighting.

* The First Battle of Lovejoy Station was fought on August 20, 1864, between Cleburne's Division and a raiding party of Federal cavalry.

Sources: Pat Cleburne: Confederate General, Howell & Elizabeth Purdue; The Army of Tennessee, Stanley F. Horn; Decision in the West, Albert Castel; Official Records, Vol. 38, Pts. 3, 4, & 5

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