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.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Marching to Greensboro

Having learned that Union Gen. William T. Sherman's army was marching toward Raleigh, on today's date in 1865, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston ordered his 3 corps to fall back from their encampment at Smithfield and march toward Greensboro.

Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart's Corps headed out first, followed by Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee's Corps, in which Great Grandfather Nathan Oakes was now serving in the newly established 8th Mississippi Battalion. They were assigned the Louisburg Road, and they followed it east of the Neuse River until crossing the river at Battle's Bridge, about 10 miles southeast of Raleigh. Gen. Joseph Wheeler's cavalry guarded the rear. William Hardee marched with one of his divisions through Smithfield, crossed the Neuse River, then marched northwest on the Raleigh Road along the North Carolina Railroad. His other 2 divisions followed Stewart's and Lee's Corps, ahead of the advancing Federal army.

In camp that night near Battle's Bridge, Johnston learned of Robert E. Lee's surrender the day before at Appomattox Courthouse. He clearly understood that the end was at hand.

The next morning, army continued its westward march, camping outside of Raleigh. On the morning of the 12th, they marched through Raleigh and continued on the Hillsborough and Chapel Hill roads. Stewart's and Lee's men bivouacked that night in the woods near the railroad tracks, about 9 miles beyond the city. Hardee's Corps bivouacked 3 miles east of Raleigh.

Overnight at Raleigh, Johnston received a telegram from President Jefferson Davis with instructions to meet him at Greensboro. Having evacuated Richmond with his cabinet on April 2nd, Davis was making his way south by rail. Leaving Gen. Hardee in command, Johnston left to meet with the president and there to learn from him that, incredibly, Davis intended to continue the war.

In the meantime on the 13th, Lee's Corps continued its march, camping that night at Hillsborough. On the 14th, Good Friday, the men marched to Haw River and camped near the bridge east of Graham, their crossing delayed by rains and the swollen river. Taking the Greensboro Road the next day through Graham and Company Shops, the troops marched another 15 miles before finally reaching their campsite. Marching another 12 miles along the New Salem road on Easter Sunday, April 16th, they reached their final destination about 15 miles outside of Greensboro.

Two days day before Great Grandfather's arrival near Greensboro, Gen. Johnston sent an offer of peace to Gen. Sherman. It was also the same day Union President Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot.

Sources: This Astounding Close, Mark L. Bradley; General Joseph E. Johnston, Gilbert Govan & James Livingwood; Narrative of Military Operations During the Civil War, Joseph E. Johnston; The Confederate Surrender at Greensboro, Robert M. Dunkerly; Official Records, Vol. 47, Pt. 1

No comments:

Post a Comment