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, April 9, 2015

Consolidated within the 8th Mississippi Battalion

On March 31stGen. Joseph E. Johnston reorganized the Army of Tennessee near Smithfield, North Carolina. The remnants of Mark P. Lowrey’s Brigade, which then was commanded by Lt. Col. J.F. Smith, was consolidated with the 8th Mississippi Regiment and placed under the command of Capt. H.W. Crook. Capt. Joshua Y. Carmack, former captain of Co. H of the 32nd, was given command of Co. D of the consolidated regiment, in which Great Grandfather Nathan R. Oakes and Great Uncle William D. Turner still served.

On today's date in 1865, the entire Confederate army under Johnston underwent a major reorganization. The new consolidation of regiments effectively marked the end of Great Grandfather's 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment, in existence since since its formation at the start of the war. There were too many understrength regiments and too many general officers to command them. These facts were already apparent to brigadiers like the valiant Gen. Lowrey, who earlier felt comipelled to resigned his commission.

In the reorganization, 3 regimentsthe 5th, 8th, and 32nd Mississippialong with the 3rd Mississippi Battalion, were consolidated into a single and much reduced unit, renamed the 8th Mississippi Battalion. Capt. Carmack was placed in command. The new 8th Mississippi Battalion was far smaller than any of its combined regiments had been separately. Together with other consolidated regiments, the newly formed 8th Mississippi Battalion was placed in Brig. Gen. Jacob H. Sharp's Brigade, in Maj. Gen. D.H. Hill’s Division, of Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee’s Corps. The 32nd Regiment remained consolidated in the 8th Mississippi Battalion through the army's surrender on April 26th.

The few surviving volunteers from the once proud 32nd Mississippi Regiment now served in a single battalion. No doubt it affected the morale of the troops. Where once the regiment had been comprised of men who were neighbors back home and who had fought together for years, now they were assigned with soldiers they did not know personally.

As it turned out however, the reorganization hardly mattered. On this same date in 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. By the end of the month, the war finally will be over for the dedicated and long-suffering survivors of the old 32nd Mississippi Regiment, too.

Sources: Military History of Mississippi, 1833-1898, Dunbar Rowland; Official Records, Vol. 47, Pts. 1 & 3; Capt. Joshua Y. Carmack's Service Records

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