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.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Beauregard's war council | Sherman's Carolinas Campaign, 1865

Maj. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard
On today's date in 1865, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard called his generals together at Green's Cut Station, near Augusta, for a war council to determine how to stop Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's 60,000-man army moving out of Savannah, about 125 miles to the south. In addition to Beauregard, Lt. Gen. William Hardee, Lt. Gen. Daniel H. Hill, and Maj. Gen. Gustavus W. Smith were in attendance, each commanding one of the separate Confederate forces in the region.

Beauregard estimated his combined strength at 33,450 troops. However, his estimate included 10,000 reinforcements he expected to receive from Mississippi with the arrival of the survivors of the Army of Tennessee. These western troops would reach the state at various times over the next 10 days, and included: Maj. Gen. S.D. Lee's Corps of around 4,000, which had mostly arrived in Augusta by this date; Maj. Gen. Benjamin Cheatham's Corps, among which was my Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes, not anticipated until the 5th; and Maj. Gen. A.P. Stewart's men who would not arrive until the 11th.

Beauregard decided against concentrating his forces. Instead he settled on a strategy of dividing his command to hold both Charleston and Augusta as long as possible while peace talks were taking place in Hampton Roads, Virginia.* He planned to eventually reunite his forces at Columbia.

Beauregard's decision proved a fateful one for his armies.

Sherman launched his Carolinas Campaign on February 1st from Savannah, dividing his army into 2 columns in a feint towards both Charleston and Augusta. Cutting a swath more than 40 miles wide, he successfully pushed his force between the divided Confederate armies and captured Columbia by the 17th.

Failing to halt Sherman, the Confederates were forced to give up the state and withdraw toward North Carolina.

* The Hampton Roads Conference was held between the United States and the Confederate States on February 3, 1865. The conference took place aboard the steamboat River Queen in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The goal was to discuss terms to end the war. USA President Abraham Lincoln and his Secretary of State, William H. Seward, met with CSA commissioners, Vice President Alexander H. Stevens, Senator Robert M.T. Hunter, and Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell. Sadly, a peace agreement was not reached, and the war continued well into April.

Sources: Last Stand in the Carolinas, Mark L. Bradley; This Astounding Close, Mark L. Bradley

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