150 years ago, from April 19 to May 3, 1863, Union Colonel Abel Streight and his men attempted a campaign to destroy portions of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, in order to cut Confederate supply lines.
University of West Georgia professor Keith Hebert spoke about this at the Department of Archives and History last week. Streight had 1700 men but was captured by the legendary Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his army of 500.
Several funny things about this botched raid: first, the Union soldiers were using mules, since there were no horses. This mean no “sneaking up” on the Rebel army because of the constant braying of the animals! The Confederates could hear them more than two miles away!
Then at Cedar Bluff, Streight’s men found themselves surrounded by Forrest, whose men craftily rode in circles in and out of Streight’s view, convincing Streight that he was surrounded by a much larger force than his own. He surrendered rather than face annihilation.
He was enraged and humiliated when he realized his forces were more than three times that of Forrest. He angrily demanded his men be allowed to renege their surrender, but Forrest refused. Defeat proved especially bitter for the Union soldiers from Alabama who had stayed with the Union rather than secede with the rest of the Alabamians.
This account of Forrest’s heroics further elevated his already mythical status!