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.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Gen. Lowrey resigns

Brig. Gen. Mark P. Lowrey
The end of the war came earlier for Brig. Gen. Mark Lowrey than for the troops he led since the beginning days of that long conflict. One of the privileges of being an officer was the right to resign a commission. By this point, the war was all but lost for the Confederate armies. In the reorganization of the fragments of the Army of Tennessee, there was a surplus of officers, and Gen. Lowrey accepted the opportunity to officially take his leave. His reasons, in his own words, were as follows:
At Chesterfield, S. C., I got leave of absence and went to Richmond to tender my resignation, which was accepted on the 14th of March, 1865. My reasons for resigning were as follows:
  1. I saw that the cause was lost.
  2. I had been separated from the men and officers with whom I had borne the "burden and heat of the day," and to whom I was endeared by a thousand sacred ties, and although I was ailing to stand with our broken forces until the end of the struggle, I was unwilling to mourne [sic] with strangers at the funeral of 'The Lost Cause.'
  3. Our armies were by an act of Congress, to be reorganized, and there was a surplus of officers of all grades, and I preferred to leave the offices to those who were more ambitious for military honor and position than myself. My highest ambition as a soldier was to do my whole duty, and advance the interest of that cause which was as dear to my heart as life.
In the disaster that swept the Army of Tennessee from Nashville in December, Lowrey had been placed in command of another division. The promotion separated him from the troops he had enlisted and led through almost the entire war. Many of these men, like Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes, had been recruited by Lowrey into "Lowrey's Regiment" at the beginning of the war in Northern Mississippi.

Through the long war, Gen. Lowrey proved himself a valiant leader and heroic fighter on battlefields like Perryville, Chickamauga, Ringgold Gap, Pickett's Mill, Peachtree CreekAtlantaFranklin and Nashville. But his men also loved him for his Christian faith and character. In addition to being a commissioned officer, Lowrey also was an ordained minister who never shied from shepherding his flock of soldiers, a fact recalled years later in 1900 by Great Grandfather Oakes in a letter he wrote to the editor of the Confederate Veteran. Lowery was a leader in the well-documented spiritual revival that swept the Confederate armies during the war, most notably at Dalton, Georgia. He frequently preached to the men under his command as well as to crowds of soldiers from other regiments. Many of these were baptized personally by the general.

After the war, Lowrey returned to Mississippi and took up the task of reorganizing and rebuilding churches that had been destroyed during the fighting. He eventually founded a Christian women’s college, which still exists as the Blue Mountain CollegeHe also was elected president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, serving that organization from 1868-1877. Following years of teaching at the college, Lowrey developed a serious heart condition. He died suddenly in 1885.
Sources: Mark P. Lowrey AutobiographyA Light on a Hill: A History of Blue Mountain College, Robbie Neal Sumrall; The Confederate Veteran, Vol. 8 (January 1900 -December 1900)

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