May 3, 1863: Cedar Bluff Alabama

May 3, 1863
Cedar Bluff Alabama

Col. Abel Delos Streight, Commander of the 51st Indiana Infantry
Col. Abel Delos Streight, Commander of the 51st Indiana Infantry

Union Colonel Abel D. Streight led a raid through Alabama and Georgia from April 19 to May 3, 1863. His goal was to destroy parts of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which was supplying the Confederate Army of Tennessee. The raid was poorly supplied and planned and was hindered by locals who had the advantage of home territory and opposed the Union. The raid ended with the defeat and capture of Streight and his 1,700 men at Cedar Bluff, Alabama, by Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest who had 500 men.

Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest
Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest

Col. Streight’s men were mounted and mules were used to handle the rough terrain in north Alabama, leading to Col. Streight’s “Mule Brigade’. They crossed Sand Mountain at Day’s Gap, continued through Blountsville, Gadsden and Gaylesville to Rome, Georgia.

Streight was  close to escaping Gen. Forrest on May 1st as they approached Gadsden. Gen. Forrest luckily had the help of a local teenage girl, Emma Sansom, who, braving enemy bullets, climbed behind Gen. Forrest on his horse and led the Confederate forces to a cattle ford across Black Creek. She became a Confederate legend whose statue still stands in Gadsden, Alabama.

Streight marched his men all night and fought a battle at Blount’s Plantation. One company of his troops destroyed part of the Noble Iron Foundry and at daybreak, finally found a bridge across the Chattooga River. Here Streight’s luck ran out and General Forrest, using a magnificent bluff, captured Streight’s Union forces of almost 1,700 men with a force of only 500 Confederate soldiers on May 3, 1863 outside Cedar Bluff, Alabama.

Battle Unit Details

ILLINOIS— 80th Infantry.
INDIANA– 51st and 73d Infantry.
OHIO— 3d Infantry.
TENNESSEE–1st Middle Cavalry (2 Cos.).