Golden Thread East Texas Grave of Confederate Heroine Emma Sansom

Mike Serpa

Major
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
GADSDEN, Alabama -- An 18-year-old Gadsden woman died early this morning when her vehicle struck the Emma Sansom monument head-on in downtown Gadsden.

Etowah County Deputy Coroner Michael Head said the accident happened at 3:57 a.m. at the intersection of First Street and Broad Street. The woman, Jaquela Robinson, was driving a 1989 Chevrolet S-10 pickup across the Memorial Bridge at Broad Street from East Gadsden.

There were no other vehicles involved, and no other passengers. Head said Robinson was probably traveling at around 50 miles per hour when she struck the monument. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Robinson was not wearing a seatbelt, he said.

"She apparently never touched her brakes," Head said. "There didn't seem to be any damage to the monument."

The Emma Sansom monument was constructed in 1906 to commemorate the actions of a 15-year-old Gadsden farmgirl who, in May 1863, helped Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest cross flooded Black Creek in pursuit of Union forces.

Head said there were no witnesses to the actual crash, but a Gadsden Police officer was in the area and arrived a few moments after.

The accident is still under investigation.

http://www.al.com/news/anniston-gadsden/index.ssf/2014/07/gadsden_teenager_dies_after_ve.html

Emphasis added.
 

redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
Being a local, maybe I can shed some additional light. You are correct in your assessment that the NE Alabama area was not rooted in slavery nor was it a hotbed for secession. Still, once the vote for secession was official, and when Union forces invaded, I believe the folks in Gadsden were "all in." There was indeed, a substantial Unionist presence, mostly in the more rural, mountainous areas, that was not as prevalent in developed areas of commerce like Gadsden. The City of Gadsden was on the Coosa River and the steamboats ran back and forth from Gadsden to Rome several times a day carrying cotton, crops, goods, and passengers. The citizens were likely impacted financially by the war long before Streight's men arrived.

Also important to note that Emma Sansom's family was not wealthy. They were not part of the "high society" so perhaps the "rules of conduct for proper young ladies" were not quite as strict. Her mother was a Vann. Emma's maternal grandfather was Joseph Vann, probably nephew of Chief James "Joseph" Vann of the Cherokee Vanns. Her father had died the year before the Forrest incident and, with her brothers away fighting in the Confederate Army, it is fair to assume that Emma and her mother would have been struggling. Emma was likely wearing a simple work dress of homespun material, not the fancy one depicted in the romanticized painting. They lived in a 2 room log cabin, not a fancy antebellum home. They scratched out a living on their little plot of land with a few cows, a handful of chickens, and a garden for family use.
Many of the people that lived North of the Tennessee River in Alabama at the time considered themselves to be living in part of Tennessee.
 

Tin cup

Captain
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Location
Texas
View attachment 13834

It was such a beautiful Spring day here in East Texas, I decided to revisit the Little Mound Cemetery just across the county line from Rhonesboro ( home of the "world famous" Possum Fest! ) into Upshur County. I found out about this a few years ago in my travels around this part of the state. For those of you ( Yankees! ) who have NO idea WHO this is: .

Don't know who you are calling "Yankees"...personally I'm an American!:smile coffee:

Kevin Dally
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Don't know who you are calling "Yankees"...personally I'm an American!:smile coffee:

Kevin Dally


It's just weird how ' Yank ' can be barbed? Funniest part is, generally it'll be good natured ,across The Pond, getting called a Yank. You know, the poke-in-the-ribs thing. But every once in awhile it's delivered with an edge. All of us would be eligible. I'm not sure anyone feels one of us Americans is a whole lot Yankier than another.
 

James N.

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Joined
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Location
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Bump.

A happy June Birthday memory for the gallant young Emma.
To-The-Lost-Ford500.jpg


https://civilwartalk.com/threads/emma-sansom-assists-n-b-forrest.102848/#post-927393
 
Last edited:

Henry Brown

Retired User
Joined
Apr 11, 2017
Location
In Transit
The story of Sansom's actions during Streight's Raid (April 19-May 3, 1863) is part Alabama history and part myth. Although she did aid Forrest in locating a crossing on Black Creek, some of the details, particularly alleged conversations between Sansom and the cavalry commander, have undoubtedly been dramatized.
According to an account published in the Jacksonville Republican one week later, Sansom volunteered to guide Forrest to a nearby ford. Initially, her mother objected to the idea of her daughter being escorted by a group of strangers. But Forrest was well known and respected, and Sansom's mother dropped her objections. With Sansom's guidance, Forrest located the ford, crossed it, and caught up with the Union forces. While escorting the general, Sansom reportedly faced enemy fire that ceased after the Union soldiers discovered that they had been firing upon a teenage girl.

m-3770.jpg

m-3404.jpg


Poem About Emma Sansom:
The courage of man is one thing, but that of a maid is more, For blood is blood and death is death, and grim is the battle gore;

And the rose that blooms, though blistered by the sleet of an open sky, Is fairer far Than her sisters are Who sleep in the hothouse nigh.

Word came up to Forrest that Streight was on a raid— Two thousand booted bayonets were riding down the glade.

Eight thousand were before him—he was holding Dodge at bay-But he turned on his heel Like the twist of a steel And was off at the break of day.

Six hundred troopers had he, game as a Claiborne c ock, Tough as the oak root grappling with the gray Sand Mountain rock;

And they fought like young Comanches by the flash of the Yankee gun, And they fell at the ford, And they shot as they rode, And fought from sun to sun.

But Streight went shirling southward with never a limp or a lag; His front was a charging huntsman, but his rear was a hounded stag.

For the gray troops followed after, their saddle blankets wet, With the bloody rack From the horses' back— And Streight not headed yet.

A fight to the death in the valley, and a fight to the death on the hill, But still Streight thundered southward and Forrest followed still

And the goaded hollows bellowed to the bay of the Rebel gun, For Forrest was hot As a solid shot When its flight is just begun.

A running fight in the morning and a charging fight at noon, Till spurs clung red and reeking around their bloody shoon—

The morning paled on them, but the evening star rose red As the bloody tinge Of the border fringe That purpled the path of the dead.

A midnight fight on the mountain and a daybreak fight in the glen, And when Streight stopped for water, he had lost three hundred men.

But he gained the bridge at the river and planted his batteries there, And the halt of the gray Was a hound at bay, And the blue—a wolf in his lair.

And from out the bridge at the river a white-heat lightning came, Like the hungry tongues of a forest fire, with the autumn woods aflame;

And the death smoke burst above them and the death heat blazed below, But the men in gray Cheered the smoke away And bared their breasts to the blow.

Should they storm the bridge at the river through melting walls of fire, And die in the brave endeavor to plant their standard higher?

Should they die at the bridge on the river or die where they stood in their track Like a through-speared boar With death at his door, But tossing the challenge back?

"To the ford! To the ford!" rang the bugle, "and flank the enemy out!" And quick to the right the gray lines wheel and answer with a shout.

But the river was mad and swollen—to left, to right, no ford— And still the sting Of the maddened thing At the bridge, and still the goad.

"To the ford! To the ford!" rang the bugle. "To the ford! Retreat or die!" And still the flail of a bullet hail from out of a mortar sky,

And they stood like a blue bull, wounded in wallowing mud and mire, And still the flash From a deadly lash And still the barbs of fire.

Then out from a near-by cabin a mountain maiden came. Her cheeks were banks of snow drifts, but her eyes were stars of flame;

And she drew her sunbonnet closer as the bullets whispered low. (Lovers of lead, And one of them said, "I'll clip a curl as I go" ).

Straight through the blistering bullets she fled like a hunted doe, While the hound guns down at the river bayed in her wake below.

And around their hot breath shifted and behind their pattering feet, But still she fled Through the thunder red And still through the lightning fleet.

And she stood at the General's stirrup, flushed as a mountain rose, When the sun looks down in the morning and the gray mist upward goes.

She stood at the General's stirrup, and this was all she said: "I'll lead the way To the ford to-day. I'm a girl, but I'm not afraid."

How the gray troops thronged around her! And then the Rebel yell. With that brave girl to lead them they would storm the gates of hell.

And they tossed her behind the General, and again the echoes woke. For she clung to him there With her floating hair As the wild vine clings to the oak.

Down through the bullets she led them, down through an unused road, And when the General dismounted to use his glass on the ford.

She spread her skirts before him (the troopers gave a cheer) "Better get behind me, General, For the bullets will hit you here!"

And then the balls came singing and ringing quick and hot, But the gray troops gave them ball for ball and answered shot for shot.

"They have riddled your skirt," the General said; "I must take you out of this din." "O that's all right," She answered light, "They are wounding my crinoline."

And then in a blaze of beauty her sunbonnet off she took, Right in the front she waved it high, and at their lines it shook.

And the gallant bluecoats cheered her—ceased firing to a man— And the gray coats rode Through the bloody ford And again the race began.

Do you wonder they rode like Romans adown the winnowing wind, With Mars himself in the saddle and Minerva up behind?

Was ever a brave foe captured and conquered by such means Since days of old And warriors bold And the Maiden of Orleans?

The courage of man is one thing, but that of a maid is more, For blood is blood and death is death, and grim is the battle gore.

And the rose that blooms, though blistered by the sleet of an open sky, Is fairer far Than her sisters are Who sleep in the hothouse nigh. John Trotwood Moore
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
The story of Sansom's actions during Streight's Raid (April 19-May 3, 1863) is part Alabama history and part myth. Although she did aid Forrest in locating a crossing on Black Creek, some of the details, particularly alleged conversations between Sansom and the cavalry commander, have undoubtedly been dramatized.
According to an account published in the Jacksonville Republican one week later, Sansom volunteered to guide Forrest to a nearby ford. Initially, her mother objected to the idea of her daughter being escorted by a group of strangers. But Forrest was well known and respected, and Sansom's mother dropped her objections. With Sansom's guidance, Forrest located the ford, crossed it, and caught up with the Union forces. While escorting the general, Sansom reportedly faced enemy fire that ceased after the Union soldiers discovered that they had been firing upon a teenage girl.

m-3770.jpg

m-3404.jpg


Poem About Emma Sansom:
The courage of man is one thing, but that of a maid is more, For blood is blood and death is death, and grim is the battle gore;

And the rose that blooms, though blistered by the sleet of an open sky, Is fairer far Than her sisters are Who sleep in the hothouse nigh.

Word came up to Forrest that Streight was on a raid— Two thousand booted bayonets were riding down the glade.

Eight thousand were before him—he was holding Dodge at bay-But he turned on his heel Like the twist of a steel And was off at the break of day.

Six hundred troopers had he, game as a Claiborne c ock, Tough as the oak root grappling with the gray Sand Mountain rock;

And they fought like young Comanches by the flash of the Yankee gun, And they fell at the ford, And they shot as they rode, And fought from sun to sun.

But Streight went shirling southward with never a limp or a lag; His front was a charging huntsman, but his rear was a hounded stag.

For the gray troops followed after, their saddle blankets wet, With the bloody rack From the horses' back— And Streight not headed yet.

A fight to the death in the valley, and a fight to the death on the hill, But still Streight thundered southward and Forrest followed still

And the goaded hollows bellowed to the bay of the Rebel gun, For Forrest was hot As a solid shot When its flight is just begun.

A running fight in the morning and a charging fight at noon, Till spurs clung red and reeking around their bloody shoon—

The morning paled on them, but the evening star rose red As the bloody tinge Of the border fringe That purpled the path of the dead.

A midnight fight on the mountain and a daybreak fight in the glen, And when Streight stopped for water, he had lost three hundred men.

But he gained the bridge at the river and planted his batteries there, And the halt of the gray Was a hound at bay, And the blue—a wolf in his lair.

And from out the bridge at the river a white-heat lightning came, Like the hungry tongues of a forest fire, with the autumn woods aflame;

And the death smoke burst above them and the death heat blazed below, But the men in gray Cheered the smoke away And bared their breasts to the blow.

Should they storm the bridge at the river through melting walls of fire, And die in the brave endeavor to plant their standard higher?

Should they die at the bridge on the river or die where they stood in their track Like a through-speared boar With death at his door, But tossing the challenge back?

"To the ford! To the ford!" rang the bugle, "and flank the enemy out!" And quick to the right the gray lines wheel and answer with a shout.

But the river was mad and swollen—to left, to right, no ford— And still the sting Of the maddened thing At the bridge, and still the goad.

"To the ford! To the ford!" rang the bugle. "To the ford! Retreat or die!" And still the flail of a bullet hail from out of a mortar sky,

And they stood like a blue bull, wounded in wallowing mud and mire, And still the flash From a deadly lash And still the barbs of fire.

Then out from a near-by cabin a mountain maiden came. Her cheeks were banks of snow drifts, but her eyes were stars of flame;

And she drew her sunbonnet closer as the bullets whispered low. (Lovers of lead, And one of them said, "I'll clip a curl as I go" ).

Straight through the blistering bullets she fled like a hunted doe, While the hound guns down at the river bayed in her wake below.

And around their hot breath shifted and behind their pattering feet, But still she fled Through the thunder red And still through the lightning fleet.

And she stood at the General's stirrup, flushed as a mountain rose, When the sun looks down in the morning and the gray mist upward goes.

She stood at the General's stirrup, and this was all she said: "I'll lead the way To the ford to-day. I'm a girl, but I'm not afraid."

How the gray troops thronged around her! And then the Rebel yell. With that brave girl to lead them they would storm the gates of hell.

And they tossed her behind the General, and again the echoes woke. For she clung to him there With her floating hair As the wild vine clings to the oak.

Down through the bullets she led them, down through an unused road, And when the General dismounted to use his glass on the ford.

She spread her skirts before him (the troopers gave a cheer) "Better get behind me, General, For the bullets will hit you here!"

And then the balls came singing and ringing quick and hot, But the gray troops gave them ball for ball and answered shot for shot.

"They have riddled your skirt," the General said; "I must take you out of this din." "O that's all right," She answered light, "They are wounding my crinoline."

And then in a blaze of beauty her sunbonnet off she took, Right in the front she waved it high, and at their lines it shook.

And the gallant bluecoats cheered her—ceased firing to a man— And the gray coats rode Through the bloody ford And again the race began.

Do you wonder they rode like Romans adown the winnowing wind, With Mars himself in the saddle and Minerva up behind?

Was ever a brave foe captured and conquered by such means Since days of old And warriors bold And the Maiden of Orleans?

The courage of man is one thing, but that of a maid is more, For blood is blood and death is death, and grim is the battle gore.

And the rose that blooms, though blistered by the sleet of an open sky, Is fairer far Than her sisters are Who sleep in the hothouse nigh. John Trotwood Moore


Thanks for this poem.

I was not aware of it.
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
View attachment 13834

It was such a beautiful Spring day here in East Texas, I decided to revisit the Little Mound Cemetery just across the county line from Rhonesboro ( home of the "world famous" Possum Fest! ) into Upshur County. I found out about this a few years ago in my travels around this part of the state. For those of you ( Yankees! ) who have NO idea WHO this is:

View attachment 13835 View attachment 13836 View attachment 13837 View attachment 13838 View attachment 13840


As you can see, Little Mound Baptist Church and Cemetery are out in the country in a landscape vastly different from the stereotyped vision of Texas. The church itself, though pleasant enough, is nothing special architecturally, and is covered with functional but ugly plastic siding. The cemetry extends from it uphill on the "mound", which is actually a ridge. I took one view from the top of the area cleared for the "old" cemetery; more recent graves are on lower ground nearer the road.


View attachment 13841 View attachment 13842 View attachment 13843
View attachment 13839
I doubt there's ANYONE who Nathanb1 would rather trade places with for an hour or so on a nice warm May day!
Very interesting.Let us hope that the Progressive historians do not discover this statue or the cranes may be visiting this sight. Then I come from that area and if is is attempted that would be as far as it would go.
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Unfortunately, adults will always underestimate teenagers.

At least Forrest took immediate action based on young Emma's observation.

Forrest was pretty desperate to get across that river - he would have listened to a cow if it could have talked! Had he not crossed the river at that point in the fight Streight would have gotten two days ahead of him, been able to rest up and get together more mules. In short, Emma quite literally prevented Streight from winning!
 
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