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1863

Union Colonel Abel Streight’s raid into Alabama and Georgia begins

Union Colonel Abel Streight begins a raid into northern Alabama and Georgia with the goal of cutting the Western and Atlantic Railroad between Chattanooga, Tennessee and Atlanta. The raid ended when Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest captured Streight’s entire command near Rome, Georgia.

The plan called for Streight and General Greenville Dodge to move from central Tennessee into northwestern Alabama. Dodge would lead a diversionary attack on Tuscumbia, Alabama, while Streight would take nearly 2,000 troopers across northern Alabama and into Georgia. Streight outfitted his men with mules instead of horses, as he felt they were better adapted to the rugged terrain of the southern Appalachians. The expedition ran into trouble almost immediately when the mules arrived at Nashville in poor condition. A Confederate cavalry detachment swooped in and caused the mules to stampede, and it took two days to round them up.

The first part of the expedition went well. Dodge captured Tuscumbia, and Streight continued east toward Georgia. But on April 29, Streight’s command was attacked by part of General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry. Streight’s men set a trap for the pursuing Rebels, and it worked well. The Confederate cavalry detachment, led by Captain William Forrest, brother of Nathan Bedford, found itself under fire from two sides. William Forrest was wounded, and the Federals continued on their mission.

But now General Nathan Bedford Forrest was on Steight’s trail, and he would not let up. The Yankees were in hostile territory, and several times the Rebels received important information from local residents that allowed them to gain the upper hand. Finally, Forrest confronted the exhausted Union troops. Under a flag of truce, they discussed terms of surrender on May 3. Forrest had just 600 men, less than half of what Streight now possessed. But Forrest spread his men around the woods. As he met with Streight, couriers from nonexistent units rode up with reports. Streight took the bait, and agreed to surrender. When the Confederates finally emerged to gather the Yankee’s weaponry, the Union colonel realized that he had been had by the crafty Forrest.

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