At the end of April, 1863, General Streight, an Indiana officer, was designated by the Federal General commanding the Army of Tennessee, to prepare for a raid into Northern Georgia, the object being to cut the Confederate communications by destroying railways, bridges, and to burn commissary stores and, above all, to wreck the splendid arsenal at Rome, Georgia.
It was calculated that Streight's raid would require a march of some 300 miles. He was given picked troops and supported by a large force for reconnoissance, to hide as long as possible the real purpose of the incursion.
Streight began his real operations on April 28th, and by the 29th General Forrest, who had been ordered to pursue and baffle the Federals, was close at his heels.
Forrest was one of the wonderful men of the war. Judged by his resources and opportunities, no man who wore the gray accomplished more, and an enemy who opposed him was bound to fight, conquer, run or die.
The moment Streight felt the first stroke of Forrest's hand, he
realized that a tireless, skilled foe was on his track, and for ninetysix hours, never by day or night, was the Federal column at rest.
Like some insatiate monster, the Confederate General followed the Federal column, and, whenever and wherever found, there was a vigilant and relentless attack. In 164 miles he fought eight battles by day and three by night, and in two of the latter, where artillery was drawn by his men to within 100 feet of the enemy's line, the only guide or light was the flash of rifles and the blaze of cannon.
Streight was himself a man of nerve and resource. Skillfully
arranged ambuscades, tierce charges and stubborn resistance met Forrest, and in a fair proportion of the conflicts the Federals held their own ; but they greatly outnumbered the Men of the Gray. The fierce onslaught of Forrest, his impetuous attack, his unyielding tenacity and uncompromising assaults, combined with his swift and rapid movements, were enough to paralyze the stoutest heart and make the bravest soul question the outcome. Like as a mighty and tireless bloodhound would follow the prey, so this wizard of the saddle pursued the hard-marching Federals, and never for a single instant in these days or nights was tliere otner thought or plan but to destroy the invaders.
Streight found friendly guides and helping hands amongst the Union men and women of Northern Alabama ; but these could not hide him from the eagle eyes or the smiting arm of those following the trail, or stay the avenging hand that was ever uplifted in his rear.
With horses dropping dead in the roads, with men falling in the unconsciousness of sleep from their steeds, and with their guns sliding from their paralyzed grasp, Forrest still hunted the foe. One-half of the command, on the third day, was killed, wounded, or broken down ; but still, with only 500 soldiers he hunted the Federal raiders, and, on May 3d, within twenty miles of Rome —the objective point of the expedition—Streight and his 1,600 men laid down their arms and surrendered to the Confederate General, who could then, after his terrible pursuit, muster less than 500 followers.
Every mile of the 164 was covered with war's wrecks. Dead soldiers, mutilated animals, wounded men and stricken beasts, broken wagons, abandoned trains and scattered supplies, told the story of the relentless and pitiless assault. Nearing the end, in forty-eight hours, four battles and ninety miles marching and four hours' sleeping.
Surely these deeds of the Cavalry of the Army of Tennessee are not unworthy of Confederate valor.