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.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The last grand review of the army

To keep Gen. Joseph Johnston's Confederate army busy and disciplined while encamped around Smithfield, North Carolina, the commanding officers drilled their units regularly. To show off their marching skills, at least 2 public Grand Reviews of the assembled armies were held. One of these, on April 4th, was for the benefit of displaying the newly reassembled Army of Tennessee in which my great grandfather Nathan Oakes served.

Then 3 days later on this date in 1865, a final review of Gen. William J. Hardee's army was held on the plantation property of Everitt P. Stevens in Selma, near Smithfield. In attendance were Gens. Joseph E. Johnston, William J. Hardee, Governor Zebulon Baird Vance, and other army officers. Also attending were a few dozen of Raleigh's young ladies who traveled by rail to witness the military parade. Gen. Hardee hosted a reception that followed where a military band provided music and Gov. Vance delivered a speech.

At the time, few of the soldiers probably imagined that this was their army's final review or that the war for them would be over before the end of the month.

Within days of the grand procession, the troops will be on the move again. On the 10th, Johnston learned that Gen. William T. Sherman's army had begun a march toward Raleigh. The Confederate general ordered his army to move west towards Greensboro.

Source: This Astounding Close, Mark L. Bradley; Official Records, Vol. 47, Pt. 1

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