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.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The surrender of the Army of Tennessee, 1865

On today's date in 1865, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston officially surrendered1 his armies to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman at Bennett Place, on the road from Hillsborough to Durham Station in North Carolina. It was the the largest surrender of the War Between the States.2 Among his forces encamped all around Confederate headquarters at Greensboro3 was the Army of Tennessee, in which my Great Grandfather Nathan Richardson Oakes served throughout the war.

By May 2nd, and with no formal ceremony to conclude the surrender, the Confederate soldiers will be issued their paroles from Greensboro and sent home.

Instead of using the term "surrender," Johnston asserted that the peace agreement was a "military convention... to terminate hostilities." Rather than being received as prisoners of war as in a formal surrender, Johnston felt his men should be permitted to stack their arms, receive their paroles, and march home, which, in fact, they did.
Johnston surrendered the Division of the West under himself, the forces under Gen. Braxton Bragg, the Department of North Carolina under Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, and the Department of Tennessee and Georgia under Lt. Gen. William Hardee, all of which generals had at one time or another commanded the Army of Tennessee. Other Confederate units will surrender in the weeks ahead. The last battle of the war, the Battle of Palmito Ranch, east of Brownsville, Texas, will be fought May 12-13, 1865. On June 23, in Doakesville, Oklahoma, Brig. Gen. Stand Watie, a Cherokee, will be the last Confederate field general to surrender.
The camps of the Confederate army were spread over a wide area, with troops at High Point, New Salem, Jamestown, Salisbury, Trinity College, Bush Hill, and Greensboro.

Sources: Last Stand in the Carolinas, Mark L. Bradley; Narrative of Military Operations During the Civil War, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston; The Chattanoogan.comMilitary Reminiscences of the Civil War, Vol. 2, Jacob Cox; The Confederate Surrender at Greensboro, Robert M. Dunkerly; Mary Ellen Oakes’s Confederate Veteran Pension Application

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