Streight's Alabama Raid

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Lazy Bayou

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Date: April 30, 1863

Principal Commanders: Col. Abel Streight [US]; Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest [CS]

Forces Engaged: Men from 51st Indiana Infantry, 73rd Indiana Infantry, 3rd Ohio Infantry, 80th Illinois Infantry, and 1st Middle Tennessee Cavalry [US]; three regiments [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 88 total (US 23; CS 65)

Description: Union Col. Abel D. Streight led a provisional brigade on a raid to cut the Western & Atlantic Railroad that supplied Gen. Braxton Bragg's Confederate army in Middle Tennessee. From Nashville, Tennessee, Streight's command traveled to Eastport, Mississippi, and then proceeded east to Tuscumbia, Alabama, in conjunction with another Union force commanded by Brig. Gen. Grenville Dodge. On April 26, 1863, Streight's men left Tuscumbia and marched southeast, their initial movements screened by Dodge's troops.

On April 30, Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's brigade caught up with Streight's expedition and attacked its rearguard at Day's Gap on Sand Mountain. The Federals repulsed this attack and continued their march to avoid further delay and envelopment. Thus began a running series of skirmishes and engagements at Crooked Creek (April 30), Hog Mountain (April 30), Blountsville (May 1), Black Creek/Gadsden (May 2), and Blount's Plantation (May 2). Forrest finally surrounded the exhausted Union soldiers near Rome, Georgia, where he forced their surrender on May 3.

Result(s): Union victory, although the raid ultimately failed.

See more here: http://www.civilwaracademy.com/civil-war-battles-in-alabama.html
 

diane

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Streight's Raid was a Union victory? Well, he did achieve his real objective - to draw Forrest off Grant's back while Grierson rode around Mississippi. Wirt Adams was good and so was Richardson, but they were not Forrest! He had a six of one, half a dozen of the other choice - leave Grierson to others or let Streight trash Alabama and Georgia and destroy a much needed foundry at Rome. Forrest's pursuit of Streight is the stuff of legends! (And darn good movies!)
 
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rhp6033

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One of Strait's problems was that there weren't enough good horses available to meet the needs of the existing cavalry, artillary, wagon, and officer's requirements. So they gave him mules, instead. About half the mules provided were in such bad condition they were left behind. And the ones that went on the raid were not broken and domesticated mules, but mostly wild mules, many of whom wouldn't tolerate a soldier sitting on their back. Add to this the fact that quite a few of the Union soldiers simply didn't know how to ride a horse (or could only ride an old passive plowhorse), and you had a disaster in the making. One further complication: a horse will continue to ride while urged on by his rider until it dies. Although horses don't like the sounds of battle, they can be controlled to some extent. Mules, however, have more common sense and enough of a stubborn disposition that at they will simply refuse to budge when tired, and at the first sound of battle will quickly exit the area, usually sans' rider.

All this made it possible for Forest to catch up with Streight's force and corner him, even though Streight's force had a considerable head start.
 

ole

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Thanks, Diane, for pointing out the purpose of Streight's fiasco.

Streight was bait to keep Forrest busy. Grierson was also bait, and wasn't there another one? In any event, Forrest chased the cookie and didn't mess with Grant's investment of V'burg.
 

diane

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Dodge made a demonstration as Streight moved out, hoping to occupy Forrest until Streight had a good start, but Forrest doped the ruse out and left Roddy to handle Dodge.

Streight wasn't the only guy on mules - Wilder's brigade got them, too, because the Union was out of horses. It was a real laugh when these infantrymen tried to get on these mules, most of whom hadn't been broken to a saddle and weren't about to be! But, by the time Forrest caught up to Streight he was just about in as bad a way. He pushed hard and it took a big toll on the horses - a lost horse meant a lost trooper. The breakdown of his horses was the reason he had so few men when he finally captured Streight. Emma Sansome and her mom got a bird's eye view of some action - Streight's wagons came careening down the road full tilt, headed for the bridge or bust, and they ran out to see what was going on. After a pause, a lone Federal officer came galloping down the road ninety or nuthin' and directly behind him was a group of Confederates, ninety or nuthin' too. The officer shot over his shoulder at them and the lead horseman shot back - the Union officer reined up right in front of the Sansomes' door and surrendered. The lead horseman was Forrest, the other riders his escort.
 
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Borderruffian

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Report of Col. Abel D. Streight, Fifty-First Indiana Infantry, commanding expedition.
Headquarters Fifty-First Indiana Volunteers, Chattanooga, Tenn., August 22, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report that since my return to duty, June 1 last, I have been endeavoring to obtain the necessary information, from the several regiments that composed my command, to enable me to render you an accurate report of my expedition in April, 1863; but, owing to the absence of most of my officers (who are still confined as prisoners of war) and the scattered condition of the men, I have been unable to collect as many of the particulars as I had intended. On April 7, 1863, I received orders from General Rosecrans to proceed with the Provisional Brigade - about 1,700 officers and men, composed of my regiment (the Fifty-first Indiana), Seventy-third Indiana, Colonel Hathaway; Third Ohio, Colonel Lawson; Eightieth Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Rodgers, and two companies of the First Middle Tennessee Cavalry, Capt. D.D. Smith - to Nashville, and to fit out as speedily as possible for an expedition to the interior of Alabama and Georgia, for the purpose of destroying the railroads and other rebel property in that country. I was instructed to draw about half the number of mules necessary to mount my command, at Nashville, and to seize in the country through which I passed a sufficient number of animals to mount the balance. On arriving at Nashville, I organized the following staff, to wit: Capt. D.L. Wright, Fifty-first Indiana Volunteers, to be acting assistant adjutant-general; Maj. W.L. Peck, Third Ohio, to be brigade surgeon; Lieut. J.G. Doughty, regimental quartermaster Fifty-first Indiana Volunteers, to be acting assistant quartermaster; Captain Driscoll, Third Ohio, to be acting assistant inspector-general; Lieut. J.W. Pavey, Eightieth Illinois Volunteer, to be ordnance officer, and Lieut. A.C. Roach, Fifty-first Indiana Volunteers, to be aide-de-camp. As soon as possible all hands were at work to supply the command with the necessary clothing, ordnance, and equipments for an expedition of this kind, and on the afternoon of the 10th I received orders from General Garfield, chief of staff, to embark at once on steamers then at the landing and proceed down the river to Palmyra, land my command there, and march across the country to Fort Henry, and to seize all the horses and mules I could find in the country. Everything was speedily put on board, although it was late in the evening before the mules were brought to the landing for shipment. I was temporarily absent at the time, attending to some business affairs preparatory to starting; consequently did not see them. As soon as everything was ready we proceeded down the river to Palmyra, where we arrived on the evening of the 11th, and disembarked at once. I sent the fleet, consisting of eight steamers, around to Fort Henry, under the command of Colonel Lawson, Third Ohio, and furnished him with four companies of the Fifty-first Indiana Volunteers as guard. He had orders to stop at Smithland and take on a quantity of rations and forage for General Dodge's command. As soon as it was light the next morning, all hands were set at work to catch and saddle the mules. I then for the first time discovered that the mules were nothing but poor, wild, and unbroken colts, many of them but two years old, and that a large number of them had the horse distemper; some 40 or 50 of the lot were too near dead to travel, and had to be left at the landing; 10 or 12 died before we started, and such of them as could be rode at all were so wild and unmanageable that it took us all that day and a part of the next to catch and break them before we could move out across the country; but in the mean time I had sent out several parties to gather in horses and mules, and they had been successful in getting about 150 very good animals, but mostly barefooted. On the 13th, the command left Palmyra and marched about 15 miles in a southwesterly direction, and encamped on Yellow Creek. My scouting parties did not succeed in finding many horses or mules. The people had got warning of our movements, and the stock was mostly run off. Early the next morning we resumed our march, and arrived at Fort Henry about noon on the 15th. We had scoured the country as far south as it was safe, on account of the proximity of a large force of the enemy, under [T.G.] Woodward, and although about 100 of the mules gave out and had to be left behind on our march, yet when we reached Fort Henry our animals numbered about 1,250. Those that we had collected in the country were mostly in good condition, but were nearly all barefooted. Contrary to my expectations the boats had not arrived, nor did they reach there until the evening of the 16th, having been delayed in getting the rations and forage above referred. General Ellet's Marine Brigade and two gunboats accompanied the fleet to Fort Henry, and informed me that they were ordered to proceed with me as far as Eastport, Miss. General Ellet assumed command of the fleet, and we embarked as soon as possible; but the pilots declared that at the existing low stage of water it would be unsafe to run at nights; hence we did not start until the morning of the 17th, when we steamed up the river, but, despite all my efforts to urge the fleet ahead as fast as possible, we did not reach Eastport until the afternoon of the 19th. As soon as we arrived at Eastport, I left Colonel Lawson in command, with orders to disembark and prepare to march, while I went to see General Dodge, who, with his command (some 8,000 strong), was awaiting my arrival 12 miles up Bear River. After my interview with General Dodge, I returned to Eastport about midnight, and was informed that a stampede had occurred among the animals, and that some of them had got away. Daylight the next morning revealed to me the fact that nearly 400 of our best animals were gone. All that day and part of the next was spent in scouring the country to recover them, but only about 200 of the lost number were recovered; the remainder fell into the hands of the enemy. The loss of these animals was a heavy blow to my command, for besides detaining us nearly two days at Eastport and running down our stock in searching the country to recover them, it caused still further delay at Tuscumbia to supply their places. Quite a number of the mules drawn at Nashville had to be left at Eastport, on account of the distemper before mentioned; several died before we left. We left Eastport on the afternoon of April 21, and reached General Dodge's headquarters the following morning about 8 o'clock. We then proceeded in rear of General Dodge's forces, which were continually skirmishing with the enemy as they advanced as far as Tuscumbia, Ala., scouring the country to the river on the left and to the mountains on our right, and collected all the horses and mules that could be found.

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Report_of_Col._Abel_D._Streight,_August_22,_1864

http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1380
 

TerryB

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Dodge made a demonstration as Streight moved out, hoping to occupy Forrest until Streight had a good start, but Forrest doped the ruse out and left Roddy to handle Dodge.

Streight wasn't the only guy on mules - Wilder's brigade got them, too, because the Union was out of horses. It was a real laugh when these infantrymen tried to get on these mules, most of whom hadn't been broken to a saddle and weren't about to be! But, by the time Forrest caught up to Streight he was just about in as bad a way. He pushed hard and it took a big toll on the horses - a lost horse meant a lost trooper. The breakdown of his horses was the reason he had so few men when he finally captured Streight. Emma Sansome and her mom got a bird's eye view of some action - Streight's wagons came careening down the road full tilt, headed for the bridge or bust, and they ran out to see what was going on. After a pause, a lone Federal officer came galloping down the road ninety or nuthin' and directly behind him was a group of Confederates, ninety or nuthin' too. The officer shot over his shoulder at them and the lead horseman shot back - the Union officer reined up right in front of the Sansomes' door and surrendered. The lead horseman was Forrest, the other riders his escort.
I thought her name was spelled Sansom, but I've seen a variation or two. She rode up behind Forrest in order to show him where he could ford a river, and he wrote her a personal note of thanks that has survived.
 
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diane

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Thanks for correcting my spelling! (Sometimes I do no better than Forrest!) I like that note - you can hear his Tennessee drawl! She impressed him. After catching his Union officer and seeing the bridge was already afire, he rode back to holler if anybody knew another way over the river? Emma was standing on a stump near the fence and said she knew a ford. Forrest rode down to her, got his horse against the fence for her to grab his arm and he hauled her aboard. She didn't do it as ladylike as the side-saddle depiction on the monument in Gadsden! Just jumped on up. Her mom gasped, "What are you doing?" Didn't exactly ease her mind her daughter hopping on a horse with a desperate-looking cavalryman in the middle of a fight - but Forrest assured her he'd bring her back safe. Which probably didn't assure her at all! But he did. With his note he also left a dead soldier in their parlor. He told them who the soldier was and asked them to bury him, so they had a wake and did that.
 
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diane

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We should mention Bill Forrest's ambush. He was uncommon fearless and far more impulsive than brother Nathan. Perhaps he should not have charged at Day's Gap - his thighbone was shattered by a minie ball and he was took prisoner for a short time. One thing Streight didn't think about (and how could he!) was Gen. Forrest's deep attachment to kin. If it took his whole army and everybody in it, brother Bill would be rescued!
 
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diane

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A little more on the battle of Day's Gap as it was noteworthy. Streight did not know Forrest was only four miles behind him until his scouts informed him, so he quickly arranged an ambush. He selected a high ridge with a marsh on one side and a ravine on the other, hid his men and set up two 12 pound cannon. Capt Bill Forrest and his scouts attacked the rearguard, falling into the ambush, and Bill was among the first to go down with a minie ball in the thigh and the bone shattered. His force withdrew hastily, leaving 30 dead and 40 captured - Bill among them. However, Forrest was right behind his brother. Setting up Morton's and Wills Gould's batteries he attacked. Streight's troops initially drove the Confederates back, which caused Gould's battery to be lost - this had very weird consequences later! Furious and really wanting his Bull Pups back, Forrest attacked again but Streight was able to withdraw well and so won the battle. However, he couldn't rest on his laurels. Forrest was just warming up! The whole fight was a series of running battles and skirmishes. Streight fetched up against Hog Ridge, where Forrest again attacked, and Streight decided to give him his dang guns back. Upon inspection it was found the guns had been spiked - the Bull Pups were dead! "Shoot everything blue!" Forrest bellowed. Streight then had his hands full - Forrest didn't give him rest. This was crucial. Streight could not give his men any much needed rest, but Forrest rotated his. A group would pursue Streight while others rested. This also kept Streight confused about the real strength of Forrest's army. Forrest continued this pressure until Streight had his back up against the Black Warrior River.
 
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diane

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That's a reasonably fair account. Forrest went to his hotel, though, where he had set up his headquarters. His wife and son were at the Galloways. By the time he got there, she was in the room - which is probably why he had a major change of heart about Gould and sent the doctors for him. That must have been some message to hear! I can just see Willie hauling it into town with his mom and them hearing kapow! kabang! down the street. (Notice Willie didn't go get Pa, either...)
 

footeghost

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Streight did really a good job, but in the he got beat like most , furriusly upset at being bluffed, as many others were. many are alive today because of NBF like or not because he was so good at this bluffing, saved many many lives. Streight a brave man but lived another day. BEN
 
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