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 23, 2015

Joseph Johnston returns to lead the army

On today's date in 1863, retired Gen. Joseph E. Johnston received a telegraph from Richmond ordering him to report to Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy's new general-in-chief. On the same day, Lee also telegraphed Johnston directing him to "assume command of the Army of Tennessee and all troops in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida." The purpose of the order was simple: "Concentrate all available forces and drive back Sherman."

Johnston immediately made his way to Charlotte to assume command from Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, whose health prevented him from continuing as commander-in-chief. In turn, Beauregard accepted Johnston's offer to be second in command and to assist with the concentration of available Confederate forces.

Upon assuming his new role, Johnston reported to Lee that his force totaled less than 25,000, nearly 10,000 fewer troops than Beauregard had estimated his strength to be earlier in the month. And with these he would attempt to hold back Sherman's 60,000-man army. To complicate matters, the men and units that Johnston could bring against Sherman were scattered and had yet to fight together as a united army. Before he could adequately oppose Sherman, Johnston needed to concentrate his force.

Lt. Gen. William Hardee with his command of about 11,000 was on his way from Charleston to Cheraw. Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham and Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart were moving the remnants of the Army of Tennessee to concentrate their forces at Fayetteville and would soon be joined there by Hardee's army. Facing Sherman was Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee with about 3,000 other veterans from the remainder of the army of Tennessee along with 6,000 cavalry under Wade Hampton. Braxton Bragg led 5,500 troops which had been forced to retreat from Wilmington.

Johnston moved his headquarters to Fayetteville, North Carolina, on March 4, to better supervise the movements of his troops now gathering in his direction. Moving again to Smithfield on March 10, he was greeted enthusiastically by troops of the Army of Tennessee, which had finally competed their long and arduous trek from Mississippi. Now with a united army, Johnston will oversee the fighting leading up to Bentonville before being compeled to surrender to Sherman at Bennett Place in April.

Source: Civil War Maps by Hal Jespersen

Sources: Narrative of Military Operations During the Civil War, Joseph E. Johnston; General Joseph E. Johnston: A Different Valor, Gilbert Govan & James Livingwood; This Astounding Close, Mark L. Bradley

No comments:

Post a Comment