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, April 6, 2015

The death of Brig. Gen. John A. Wharton

John Austin Wharton (July 23, 1828 – April 6, 1865) was a lawyer, plantation owner, delegate to the Texas Secession Convention, and a Confederate cavalry major general during the War Between the States. In that conflict, he was considered one of the Confederacy's best tactical cavalry commanders.

Photo by Mark Dolan, March 2015
Maj. Gen. John A. Wharton Monument
Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas
When the war began, Wharton was elected captain of Company B of 8th Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers. He rose to command the regiment after the deaths of Col. Benjamin F. Terry and Lieut. Col. Thomas S. Lubbock. Wharton led his troops with distinction at the Battle of Shiloh where he was wounded. His leadership during Bragg's 1862 Kentucky invasion earned him a promotion to the rank of brigadier general in November 1862. His actions at the Battle of Chickamauga in the fall of 1863, earned him another promotion, to the rank of major general. In February 1864, Gen. Wharton was transferred to Richard Taylor's Trans-Mississippi Depart-ment in Louisiana. Upon his arrival he was assigned to lead the cavalry and took part in the closing scenes of the 1864 Red River Campaign in Louisiana.

But on April 6, 1865—three days before Robert E. Lee surrendered his army—while visiting Gen. John B. Magruder's headquarters at the Fannin Hotel in Houston, Wharton was killed by fellow officer George W. Baylor in a personal quarrel. Even though Wharton was found to have been unarmed, Baylor was acquitted of murder charges in 1868.

Wharton was originally buried at Hempstead, but was later moved to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

Maj. Gen. John A. Wharton is one of the 2 major generals—both cavalry officers that one time or another commanded Great-Great Grandfather David C. Neal’s 6th Tennessee Regiment—who died violently, but not from enemy action. The other was Major General Van Dorn, shot by a jealous husband on May 7, 1863.

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