U.S. Army Colonel Abel Streight in March, 1863 convinced General James Garfield to allow him to organize a cavalry brigade for the purpose of carrying out operations from Tennessee deep into the South. Streight had dealt with northern Alabama Unionists, and felt they could be encouraged and protected, by emulating the operations of Confederate General N. B. Forrest. Thus was born the so-called Union “Lightning Mule Brigade.” "Streight's plan was risky, but the decision to mount the raiders on mules, and not horses, was a grave mistake. The Union command believed mules would be more sure-footed in the rugged northern Alabama hill country and better able to withstand the rigors of a two hundred mile raid. And, the thinking went, while mules were slower than horses, the raiders had little need for swift mounts, as they were not likely to see any opposition." As soon as the Lightning Mule Brigade disembarked from transports at Eastport, MS, some 400 mules dashed off into the countryside. Some of the escapees were retrieved, others replaced through forage.