Civil War - 32nd Tennessee Infantry

32nd Tennessee Infantry

In August of 1861, Tennessee Governor Isham Harris issued his second call for thirty regiments of infantry for the Confederate army. In pursuance of this call 10 companies from Lincoln, Lawrence, Franklin, Williamson, Marshall, and Giles counties assembled at Camp Trousdale in Sumner County. On October 28, the 32nd Tennessee Infantry was formed under the command of Colonel Edmond C. Cooke. Other regimental officers were Lt. Colonel William P. Moore, Major W. J. Brownlow, Surgeons Dr. J. Frank Grant and Dr. F. M. Waters, Assistant Surgeon Dr. Custer, Quartermaster John T. Shapard, Commissary E. S. Wilson, Adjutant Calvin E. Jones, and Sergeant-Major Thomas Moore.

400 young men from Giles County formed four companies:

Company A - Captain Willis Worley, 1st Lt. Joseph Young, 2nd Lt. W. R. Collins, Brevet 2nd Lt. David S. Harmand.

Company B - Captain Hiram T. Hunnicutt, 1st Lt. Miller Bass, 2nd Lt. G. B. Reasons, Brevet 2nd Lt. Robert F. Holland.

Company G - Captain John M. Winstead, 1st Lt. Thomas Abernathy, 2nd Lt. James H. Cook, Brevet 2nd Lt. Field Arrowsmith.

Company K - Captain Thomas Hannah, 1st Lt. John L. Brownlow, 2nd Lt. James F. Fogg, Brevet 2nd Lt. G. W. Hammond.

There was almost no previous military experience in this regiment when it was mustered into the service of the Confederate States of America and ordered to report to General Albert Sidney Johnston. The regiment quickly adapted to military life and became efficient in drilling and marksmanship. They were armed with smooth-bore muskets.

On November 14, 1861, the 32nd Tennessee Infantry was ordered to East Tennessee to guard railroad bridges from Bridgeport, Alabama, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to suppress insurrection in pro-union sections of the Tennessee counties of Hamilton, Sequatchie, and Marion. Around this time the 32nd Tennessee was reported to have 850 men armed with 500 flintlock muskets.

On December 9th, the 32nd Tennessee was ordered to move to Bowling Green, Kentucky. They moved to Bowling Green by rail and reached there around Christmas and went into winter quarters. On January 31, 1862, the 32nd Tennessee was reported in Major General William J. Hardee's Army of Central Kentucky, Colonel John C. Brown's Brigade, composed of the 3rd, 18th, and 32nd Tennessee Infantry Regiments. The 32nd Tennessee remained in Brown's Brigade until 1865. Around February 1st, they were ordered to move to Russellville, Kentucky, and remained there a short time engaged in drilling and inspection preparatory to active service. The winter of 1861-62 was extremely disasterous for these Confederate soldiers in Kentucky. Accidents, disease, and cold, damp weather caused the loss of around 300 men of the 32nd Tennessee. Many were ill and took months to recover. Some were ill and never recovered.

When the Union army began its invasion of Tennessee, Brown's Brigade was ordered to assist in the defense of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. They moved by rail to Clarksville, Tennessee, and rode the steamer "City of Nashville" up the Cumberland River. Arriving at Fort Donelson shortly before the battle began on February 12th, the 32nd Tennessee entered the battle with 555 effective soldiers. During the four days of fighting, 3 were killed and 36 were wounded. Among those killed was Lt. Colonel William P. Moore. On the 16th of February, 1862, the Confederate forces at Fort Donelson were surrendered to Union General U. S. Grant. 528 members of the 32nd Tennessee were taken prisoner.

A few men from the 32nd Tennessee managed to escape capture and served with the 35th Tennessee Infantry until the following September. The captured officers of the 32nd Tennessee were sent as prisoners of war to Camp Chase, Ohio, and later to Fort Warren, Massachusetts. The Sergeants and Privates were sent to prison at Camp Morton, Indiana. After about seven months in prison, the men of the 32nd Tennessee were sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi, for exchange on September 12th. They were ordered to Jackson, Mississippi, for reorganization. On the 19th of September the regiment was reorganized. Edmond Cooke was reelected Colonel. David S. Bodenhammer was Sergeant Major and Luther W. McCord was Quartermaster Sergeant. The Giles County companies were:

  • Company B - formerly Company G - Lt. Field Arrowsmith, commanding.
  • Company E - formerly Company B - Lt. Jacob M. Bass, commanding.
  • Company F - formerly Company A - Lt. Joseph Young, commanding.
  • Company H - formerly Company K - Lt. John L. Brownlow, commanding.

After reorganization, the 32nd Tennessee was sent to Knoxville, Tennessee, and remained there a short time before being ordered to report To Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. On the 28th of October, 1862, the 32nd Tennessee was at Murfreesboro in Major General J. C. Breckinridge's Army of Middle Tennessee. The 32nd Tennessee numbered 1100 men and officers.

Colonel Joseph B. Palmer was in command of Brown's Brigade, composed of the 18th Tennessee, the 32nd Tennessee, the 32nd Alabama, the 4th Florida infantry regiments and two artillery batteries. On December 19th, Brown's Brigade was composed of the 18th, 26th, 28th, 32nd and 45th Tennessee infantry regiments and Moses' Georgia Battery. The brigade was in Breckinridge's Division, Hardee's Corps. The 32nd Tennessee was on detached service guarding railroad bridges at Wartrace, Tennessee, and missed the Battle of Stones River fought on December 31, 1862, and January 1 - 4, 1863. Through the following June, the 32nd Tennessee was stationed in the vicinity of Wartrace, then moved to the vicinity of Tullahoma, Tennessee.

When Confederate General Braxton Bragg began his retreat from Tennessee in the summer of 1863, the 32nd Tennessee moved toward Chattanooga and on the 2nd of September was at Lafayette, Georgia. From there the 32nd Tennessee moved to Chickamauga, Georgia, on the 18th of September and the next day was engaged in the two day Battle of Chickamauga. The 32nd Tennessee fought as the center regiment of Brown's Brigade. The regiment had 900 men and officers when the battle began. Some reports indicate that only 361 men were able for duty. The 2nd Tennessee suffered more than 165 casualties, killed and wounded. One company lost 19 out of a total of 23. General John C. Brown was wounded on the 2nd day of the battle.

The Thursday morning, October 8, 1863, edition of the CHATTANOOGA DAILY REBEL reported these Giles County casualties:

Company B

  • Killed - Ed Marks.
  • Wounded - Sergt N A Young, slightly in arm.
  • Corp N B Young, severely in foot.
  • Corp Wm M Edwards, slightly in hip.
  • T C Cook, slightly in thigh.
  • A D Odeneal, severely in head.
  • 1st Lieut Field Arrowsmith, slightly in arm.
  • Corp W J Reasonover, mortally in bowels.
  • Corp M R Wilkerson, slightly in hip.
  • James Ennis, severely in leg.
  • Sergt Wm Arrowsmith, severely in thigh.
  • John Arrowsmith, slightly in hand.
  • W H Doggett, slightly in hand.
  • A M Holt, severely in leg.
  • W H Mayfield, slightly in thigh.
  • L B Odeneal, slightly in thigh.
  • W C Spence, severely in arm.
  • John Wall, slightly in leg.
Company E
  • Killed - W R Butler.
  • H A Smith.
  • Wounded - Capt Jacob M Bass, severe in shoulder.
  • 2d Lieut Robt F Holland, slightly in ankle.
  • Corp J S Bledsoe, severely in shoulder.
  • Corp W H VanHoozer, slightly in neck.
  • W A McMurray, slightly in leg.
  • B T Cole, slightly in knee.
  • J T Bledsoe, (infirmary corps) slightly in knee.
  • R F Smith, slightly in hand.
  • J C Hodges, slightly in thigh.
  • W A Riddle, slightly in hand.
  • J B Smith, slightly in head.
  • W A Glaze, slightly in head.
  • H L Birdsong, slightly in thigh.
  • J T Nelson, slightly in arm.
  • J W Holloway, slightly in leg.
  • M R J McDonald, slightly in leg.
  • J N Marshall, slightly in head.
  • P Newman, slightly in shoulder.
  • W G McNeely, slightly in arm.
Company F
  • Wounded - 1st Lt. Daniel S Hasmond, slightly in leg.
  • Serg't T J Webb, severely in ankle and amputated.
  • T C Young, slightly in arm.
  • W W Burgess, slightly in leg.
  • Corp A B Griggs, severely in knee.
  • Wm A Summers, severely in hand, amputated.
  • S Coloton, slightly in hand, missing.
  • A S Williford, slightly in side.
  • D S Webb, slightly in thigh.
  • O P Madray, slightly in knee.
  • T G Williford, slightly in thigh.
  • W P Clift, slightly in thigh.
  • J A Harris, slightly in thigh.
  • Wm G Holley, severely in hand and shoulder.
  • O P Randolph, severe in thigh and arm.
  • L Smith, severely in arm.
  • H L Burgess, slightly in shoulder.
  • A H Webb, slightly in foot.
  • J V Huff, slightly in foot.
  • G W Summers, missing.
Company H
  • Killed - Serg't Wm D Braley.
  • Wounded - 2d Lt Geo W Hammonds, severely in leg.
  • Serg't Jas J Phillips, slightly in arm.
  • J J Ezell, slightly in shoulder.
  • Corp'l Wm J Johnson, slightly in arm.
  • Wiley L Johnston, mortally in bowels.
  • Drury Appleton, slightly in thigh.
  • Jas C Brownlow, slightly in thigh.
  • Jas Cox, severely in knee.
  • John H Case, severely in foot.
  • John Y Gooch, slightly in mouth.
  • Joseph M Hamsley, stunned by a shell.
  • Geo W Warren, slightly in side.
  • Wm A Kerr, slightly in thigh.
  • Allen Ezell, slightly in eye.
  • Fillmore G Shelton, slightly in foot.

On November 12, 1863, the 3rd Tennessee Infantry was returned to Brown's Brigade. General Brown led the brigade in the Battle of Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863. The 32nd Tennessee was on Lookout Mountain on the 24th and reached Missionary Ridge too late on the 25th to be effective. The 32nd Tennessee suffered 18 casualties in this battle. On December 14, 1863, the 32nd Tennessee reported 248 effectives out of 321 present. The 32nd Tennessee went into winter quarters at Dalton, Georgia, where it remained until the middle of May, 1864.

The 32nd Tennessee fought every step of the way as Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreated his Army of Tennessee southward toward Atlanta. The Union army led by General William T. Sherman consistently avoided frontal assaults with the Confederate army. Sherman's flanking movements around Confederate entrenchments caused Johnson's army to be constantly retreating. A great many skirmishes and small battles did occur. The 32nd Tennessee fought at Swamp Creek on May 13th, Resaca on May 15th, New Hope Church on May 24th, Powder Springs Road on June 22nd, and Kennesaw Mountain on June 27th. More than half the men of the 32nd Tennessee were killed or wounded in the Battle at Powder Springs Road. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston was replaced by General John Bell Hood and Atlanta soon fell into Union hands. The Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia, on the 31st of August took a heavy toll on what was left of the 32nd Tennessee.

The Confederate Army of Tennessee led by General John Bell Hood started home to Tennessee shortly after the fall of Atlanta. Their goal was to free Nashville of Union control. They marched to Florence, Alabama, then via Mount Pleasant and Columbia, they met the Union army at Franklin on the 30th of November, 1864. The 32nd Tennessee arrived too late to be engaged in that terrible battle. From Franklin, the 32nd Tennessee was detached for service under Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in the vicinity of Murfreesboro and missed the Battle of Nashville.

After its loss at Nashville, Hood's Army of Tennessee retreated southward toward the safety of the Tennessee river. They passed through Franklin, Columbia and Pulaski on their march to Alabama. Forrest's command, which included the remnants of Brown's Brigade, served as rear guard for the retreating Confederate army. On Christmas day, at Anthony Hill, a few miles south of Pulaski, Forrest set up an ambush to slow the Union army and give the retreating Confederates time to reach the Tennessee River. Forrest placed Captain Morton's artillery on a hill overlooking the road and placed the 32nd Tennessee on both sides of the road, just south on the tan yards. Forrest's ambush was successful in stopping the Union army. Union soldiers were stalled from Anthony Hill all the way back into Pulaski. Forrest then retreated and made a similar stand on Sugar Creek near the Alabama state line. The Confederate rear guard successfully held back the Union army long enough for the Confederate army to reach and cross the Tennessee River.

What few were left in the 32nd Tennessee then marched to Tupelo, Mississippi. Shortly thereafter they went to North Carolina to join the army of General Joseph E. Johnston. Skirmishers of the 32nd Tennessee were the last to leave Columbia, South Carolina, before Sherman entered the city. In March, the 32nd Tennessee fought at Bentonville, North Carolina, the last battle of the Army of Tennessee.

On April 9, 1865, the day Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia, the 32nd Tennessee consisted of one company commanded by Captain Field Arrowsmith. They were then reorganized into the Fourth Consolidated Tennessee Infantry. General Johnston surrendered his Army of Tennessee on the 26th of April, 1865. The 32nd Tennessee was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 1, 1865. From there, those tired soldiers began their walk home to Giles County.

Under misapprehension of a general order from army headquarters, the medical officers of the 32nd Tennessee Infantry burned all the rosters and records of the regiment shortly before the surrender of the Army of Tennessee in April, 1865.

Submitted by Bob Wamble

Partial Memorial Roll
of The 32nd Tennessee Infantry (Giles County Soldiers)