5th Confederate Regiment (J. A. Smith's)

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Nov 8, 2018
Formed in July 1862 from the merging of the 2nd Tennessee (Walker's) and the 21st Tennessee Infantry, this storied regiment, first commanded by future general Col. James Argyle Smith. It is notable for having a large portion of its ranks being of Irish origin or heritage. Initially it was assigned to Bushrod Johnson's Tennessean brigade in the Kentucky Campaign, seeing action at Perryville. After the return to Tennessee, the regiment was reassigned to Lucius Polk's (formerly Cleburne's brigade at Shiloh) brigade, a hodge-podge of Tennessean and Arkansan troops, including the 3rd Confederate Regiment of primarily Arkansan origin, which would share ties with the 5th in the coming years.
After taking part in Cleburne's initial attack at Murfreesboro, the much reduced 5th was consolidated with the 3rd Confederate to create the 3rd-5th Confederate. Col. J. A. Smith was still it's chief colonel (the 3rd never replaced it's original Colonel, Marmaduke, after he had been promoted and transferred to the Transmississippi). It thus took part in the Tullahoma Campaign, and Chickamauga where it served conspicuously in Cleburne's night assault on the 20th, and after which J. A. Smith would be promoted to Brigadier General and replace the deceased Deshler in command of the Texas Brigade. The 3rd-5th remained with Polk's brigade during the Chattanooga Campaign, where it saw action at Tunnel Hill and at Ringgold. After this, the 2 regiments were unconsolidated, with the 3rd transferring to Govan's Arkansan Brigade.
The 5th, still rather depleted in strength, continued with Polk in the Atlanta campaign until June, after Polk was wounded and his brigade disbanded and split between other commands. The 5th was assigned to Granbury's Texas Brigade, which J. A. Smith had finally returned to command after he had been wounded at Tunnel Hill. Under his command, the brigade would lead the attack on Bald Hill in the Great Battle of Atlanta. At this point, the Regiment's strength was a mere 81 men, under the command of Major Richard A. Person. Despite it's low numbers, it would gain fame in this battle, for it was Corporal Robert Coleman who is credited with firing the shot that killed General James B. McPherson, the highest ranking Union officer killed in the war. A federal counterattack overran the regiment, resulting in most of the regiment being captured, including Major Person.
(What happened with the remnant of the regiment post-Bald Hill I am not sure. Most likely, they were assigned to the 35th Tennessee (also from Polk's brigade and also moved to Smith's/Granbury's Texas Brigade) or the 3rd Confederate. I am going under the assumption that it was with the former, given Sam Foster's account of an Irishman in the brigade chastising Governor Lubbock for invoking Nelson before Franklin)
The remaining men fought with Cleburne at Jonesboro, and by the end of the campaign, Cleburne's division numbered about 3,000 (possibly lower, if not for the quick exchange of Confederate prisoners, including 600 men from Govan's brigade alone. The remnant took part in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign, helping acheive the deepest breakthrough of Confederate troops at Franklin, before being bloodily repulsed by Opdycke's Tigers. After the death of General Cleburne, J. A. Smith was given command of the remnants of the division (Mark Lowrey, the ranking Brigadier, was transfered to command Brown's division). At Nashville, the Texas Brigade, under the command of Captain Broughton and numbering a poultry 700 men, fought well holding off the U.S.C.T. attack on the Confederate right in what became known as Granbury's Lunette (though Granbury had been killed at Franklin).
I have been unable to find a record of how many men surrendered at Bentonville with Johnston.

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