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, December 2, 2014

Forward to Nashville

Although his army had been decimated at the Battle of Franklin days before,* nevertheless the rash commander of the Army of Tennessee, Gen. John B. Hood, ordered his men—now reduced to barely 23,000 in numberon to Nashville on this date in 1864. Later in his memoirs, he explained his incredible decision to advance his shattered army:
In truth our army was in that condition which rendered it judicious [that] the men should face a decisive issue rather than retreat—in other words, rather than renounce the honor of their cause, without having made a last and manful effort to lift the sinking fortunes of the Confederacy... the troops would I believed, return better satisfied even after defeat if, in grasping at the last straw, they felt that a brave and vigorous effort had been made to save the country from disaster.
It would be astounding if many of his men on this date would have agreed. For them Franklin was nearly the last straw.

Hood moved the remnants of his army to to Brentwood Hills on the outskirts of Nashville. For the beleaguered Confederate troops, the Federal fortifications at Nashville must have seemed daunting. And the enemy's force was continuing to grow. By December 10th, the Union force will number 72,000.

As Hood deployed his troops, it was painfully apparent that his force could not form a continuous line to oppose the Federal army. In spite of the odds, he placed Gen. Stephen Lee's Corps in the center. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham's Corps was on Lee's left and Gen Alexander P. Stewart's Corps on the right. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest's cavalry, along with some infantry, was sent toward Murfreesboro. Hood promised reinforcements to follow.

Hood's pathetic siege of Nashville will stretch on for another 2 miserable weeks. The harsh weather and short supplies will ensure that his men endure far more suffering than the Federal troops they are opposing.

By the time Hood's army marched out of Franklin and took position on December 2nd, his command structure was undergoing serious reorganization, including Great Grandfather Nathan's Oakes's division, Cleburne's. Following Cleburne's death, Brig. Gen. Mark P. Lowery was put in temporary commanded of the division. Lt. Col. Robert H. Abercrombie commanded Lowrey's Brigade. Maj. Andrew E. Moody was given command of the of the combined 8th and 32nd Mississippi Regiments (Great Grandfather was in the 32nd). Lowrey commanded Cleburne's Division until the arrival of J.A. Smith. On December 16th, in the 2nd day of the Battle of Nashville, he was given command of Brown's Division. Lowrey will continue to command that division into the Carolinas Campaign, March 1865.

Source: Advance and Retreat, John B. Hood

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