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.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Crossing the Tennessee River | Hood's grand plan

Gen. John B. Hood's Army of Tennessee had been at Tuscumbia since October 31, 1864 awaiting the arrival of Gen. Nathan B. Forrest and his cavalry. Hood ordered a mile-long pontoon bridge built over the Tennessee River. Patrick Cleburne’s Division, in which Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes was serving, began crossing on this date in 1864, with bands playing and the soldiers marching in a column of fours. The bands continued to play as other divisions crossed the river. Once across, Cleburne bivouacked his division in Florence, Alabama, where Hood set up his headquarters.

The next day, the famous cavalry general and his 6,000-man column arrived in camp. Apparently, he and his troops immediately became the objects of much curiosity. Several of the brigade bands got together to serenade the general, and it turned into an impromptu outdoor concert.

Source: Wikipedia

Also on the 14th, Federal. Gen. John M. Schofield arrived at Pulaski, Tennessee, about 50 miles northeast of Hood's position. He took command of about 26,000 Federal troops that were assembling there. His orders were to delay Hood's advance in order to gain time for Gen. George Thomas's sizable force to concentrate at Nashville.

Finally across the river and bolstered by with Forrest’s cavalry, Hood unveiled his grand plan for a Tennessee Campaign: He would march the army north into Middle Tennessee and retake Nashville, 115 miles to the north. He believed that there were few Federal soldiers in Tennessee, meaning his campaign would not require much fighting if he could move his army fast enough. He convinced Gen. 
P.G.T. Beauregard, the Confederate Western theater commander, of the soundness of his plan and assured him that he would move “at the earliest possible moment.” Instead, rains forced repeated postponements. Short on supplies, on November 30, Hood issued another General Order to inform his troops of his plan, calling on them to accept a period of short rations with “a cheerful spirit.”

Sources: Stonewall of the West, Craig L. Symonds; The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah, Wiley Sword; Hood's Tennessee Campaign, William R. Scaife; Official Records, Vol. 45, Pt. 1

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