Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia: Private Phillip L. Crews, my 2nd cousin 5x removed

I previously wrote about Corporal James H. Crews and his untimely demise at the Battle of Fort Donelson, Tennessee.  Unfortunately for the Crews family, James' older brother, Phillip would also be killed in battle during the Civil War.

Phillip L. Crews was born in Granville County, North Carolina in 1834.   His brother James was born in Maury, Tennessee in 1835 so the family must have relocated to Tennessee sometime after Phillip's birth.
The death of James on February 15, 1862 must have affected Phillip deeply.   Phillip enlisted as a Private in James' old regiment, Company E, Tennessee 3rd Infantry on November 10, 1862. 

1st Muster Roll for Phillip
In late 1862 the Tennessee 3rd Infantry Regiment, along with the 10th, 30th, 41st and 50th Tennessee Infantry Regiments and Colms' 1st Tennessee Infantry Battalion, was attached to Brigadier General John Gregg's Brigade.   This Brigade was part of the force commanded by Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton at Vicksburg, Mississippi. 

Gregg's Brigade participated in the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou on December 27-29, 1862, where the 3rd and 30th Tennessee operated together as a field unit.  They would also participate in the Battle of Raymond, Mississippi in early May of 1862.  In this engagement, the regiment suffered 187 casualties out of 548 engaged.  Following this engagement, the regiment was attached to General Joseph E. Johnston's Army in the attempt to relieve Vicksburg.  Vicksburg was surrendered on July 4, 1863.  Following the surrender, the 3rd manned the rifle pits at Jackson, Mississippi, from the 9th to the 16th of July.  In the operations around Jackson, the regiment numbered only 366 men, and suffered 22 casualties. 

On July 16, 1863, Gregg's Brigade was attached to General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee.  It was placed in Lieutenant General D. H. Hill's Corps of Brigadier General Bushrod R. Johnson's Division.   In the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia on September 19 and 20, 1863, the brigade had 1425 men in active combat, losing 652 men killed and wounded.   The 3rd reported to have 274 men in action, but no report of casualties for the regiment was found.  The 3rd's Colonel Walker and Lieutenant Colonel Clack were given special commendation for the regiment's participation in this battle. 

Battle of Chickamauga (lithograph by Kurz and Allison, 1890)

The Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia was fought on September 19 - 20, 1863.   This battle marked the end of the Union's offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia.  This battle was the most significant defeat for the Union in the Western Theater of the Civil War.  The battle would also boast the second highest casualty report of the war, the first being Gettysburg. 

The combatants were the Union Army of the Cumberland commanded by Major General William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee commanded by General Braxton Bragg.  After Rosecrans drove the Confederates out of Chattanooga, Bragg was determined to reoccupy the city. 

The fighting began in the early hours of September 19th.  Although the Confederate forces mounted a heavy attack, they couldn't break through the Union line.   It was in this Confederate assault where Phillip L. Crews lost his life.   Phillip was killed in action on September 19, 1863.   He was 29 years old.  His burial location is not known at the time of this entry.

Muster Roll showing Phillip was killed in action

Bragg resumed his assault on September 20th, attacking a gap in Rosecrans line.  This gap was created because Rosecrans was misinformed of another gap in his line.   His moves to close up this reported gap caused the actual gap that Bragg's forces were able to concentrate on.  Lieutenant General James Longstreet's eight brigade assault drove 1/3 of the Union Army, including Rosecrans off the field of battle.  Union troops rallied under Union Major General George H. Thomas to form a defensive line on Horseshoe Ridge.  

While Rosecrans went to Chattanooga, Thomas and two thirds of the Union army made a desperate yet magnificent stand that has become a proud part of the military epic of America. Thomas would thereafter justly be known as the Rock of Chickamauga.

General George H. Thomas - The Rock of Chickamauga
Unfortunately for Thomas, his bravery wasn't enough.   Thomas and his men held firm until twilight and then retreated to Chattanooga.    The Confederate forces occupied the surrounding heights and besieged the city.

The battle was damaging to both sides.   Union losses were 16,170 (1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded, and 4,757 captured or missing), Confederate 18,454 (2,312 killed, 14,674 wounded, and 1,468 captured or missing).  These were the highest losses of any battle in the Western Theater during the war.  Although the Confederate forces were technically the victors, due to driving Rosecrans from the field, General Bragg had not achieved his objective of destroying Rosecrans, nor of restoring Confederate control of East Tennessee.

Phillip L. Crews died 149 years ago today. 

Here's my relation to Phillip:

Phillip L. Crews (1834 - 1863)
is your 2nd cousin 5x removed
William A Crews (1808 - 1860)
Father of Phillip L.
William Littleberry Crews (1788 - 1855)
Father of William A
Gideon Crews (1730 - 1815)
Father of William Littleberry
Abigail Crews (1775 - 1822)
Daughter of Gideon
L. Chesley Daniel (1806 - 1882)
Son of Abigail
William Henry "Buck" Daniel (1827 - 1896)
Son of L. Chesley
Phebe Lucy Daniel (1862 - 1946)
Daughter of William Henry "Buck"
Valeria Lee Moss (1890 - 1968)
Daughter of Phebe Lucy
Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis (1918 - 1977)
Daughter of Valeria Lee
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
Daughter of Phebe Teresa
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce

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