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.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Change of plans

While Confederate Gen. John B. Hood's Army of Tennessee was encamped at Palmetto, the general developed a plan, with President Davis's blessing, for the destruction of Union Gen. William T. Sherman's supply line to Tennessee. On October 1, 1864, Hood crossed his army over the Chattahoochee River to strike the Western & Atlantic Railroad at several places north of the river. The Confederates captured Federal garrisons at Big Shanty (Kennesaw) and Acworth. Another force attacked the Federals at Allatoona Pass.1

So far Hood's plan had been successful. October 5th, Sherman's force of about 40,000 men were on the move towards Hood's army, which hoped to give battle to the Yankee invaders.

However, on today's date in 1864, Hood had a change of heart and abandoned his original plan. He decided, instead, to strike the railroad north of the Etowah River. If Sherman didn't follow, but instead returned to Atlanta, Hood would pursue. Accordingly, Hood marched his army across the New Hope Church battle grounds toward the Alabama border at Cedartown, Georgia. At this point his supply line was stretched thin.

Almost immediately, Davis knew that Hood's offensive was in trouble. On the 9th, Gen. 
P.G.T. Beauregard,  the new commander of the Department of the West,2 met with Hood near Cedartown at Cave Spring. Apparently Hood misled Beauregard about his true plans for his campaign. Hood discussed his strategy for striking the railroad between Dalton and Resaca. Beauregard left with the impression that Hood would continue his operations around Gadsden, Alabama, and that he would remain in contact with Sherman's army. He would look for an opportunity to fight Sherman if his foe was so inclined, or follow him back to Atlanta.

Hood's real intention, however, seems to have been to push beyond Gadsden into Middle Tennessee.

1Maj. Gen. Samuel G. French led this attack at Allatoona. Demanding the surrender of the Federal troops there, French eventually was forced to withdraw when he learned that enemy reinforcements were on their way. The Federal commanding the besieged fort, Gen. John M. Corse sent a message, to which a reply came: "General Sherman says hold fast; we are coming." In 1870, Evangelist Peter P. Bliss wrote a hymn commemorating the battle entitled, "Hold the Fort, for I am Coming." The gospel song which invokes themes of Christian deliverance, has been sing in countless churches since, although few any longer know of its roots in this battle.
2Davis met with Beauregard in Augusta, Georgia, on October 2, as part of his visit to Hood's army at Palmetto. There Davis and gave Beauregard command of the newly created Department of the West, responsible for the five Southern states from Georgia to the Mississippi River, with the armies of Hood and Richard Taylor under his command. Beauregard would officially take command on October 17th. He later stated he didn't believe he had actual authority to order Hood at this point.

Source: Autumn of Glory, Thomas Lawrence Connelly; Hood's Campaign for Tennessee, William R. Scaife

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