Começa a invasão do Coronel Abel Streight no Alabama e na Geórgia

Começa a invasão do Coronel Abel Streight no Alabama e na Geórgia



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O coronel da União Abel Streight inicia uma incursão no norte do Alabama e Geórgia com o objetivo de cortar a ferrovia Western and Atlantic entre Chattanooga, Tennessee e Atlanta. O ataque terminou quando o general confederado Nathan Bedford Forrest capturou todo o comando de Streight perto de Roma, Geórgia.

O plano previa que Streight e General Grenville Dodge se mudassem do centro do Tennessee para o noroeste do Alabama. Dodge lideraria um ataque diversivo em Tuscumbia, Alabama, enquanto Streight levaria quase 2.000 soldados através do norte do Alabama e para a Geórgia. Streight equipou seus homens com mulas em vez de cavalos, pois achava que eles estavam mais bem adaptados ao terreno acidentado dos Apalaches do sul. A expedição teve problemas quase imediatamente quando as mulas chegaram a Nashville em más condições. Um destacamento de cavalaria confederado se aproximou e fez as mulas debandar, e levou dois dias para reuni-las.

A primeira parte da expedição correu bem. Dodge capturou Tuscumbia e Streight continuou para o leste em direção à Geórgia. Mas em 29 de abril, o comando de Streight foi atacado por parte da cavalaria do general Nathan Bedford Forrest. Os homens de Streight armaram uma armadilha para os rebeldes que os perseguiam, e funcionou bem. O destacamento de cavalaria confederado, liderado pelo capitão William Forrest, irmão de Nathan Bedford, viu-se sob fogo de dois lados. William Forrest foi ferido e os Federados continuaram em sua missão.

Mas agora o general Nathan Bedford Forrest estava no encalço de Steight e ele não desistia. Os ianques estavam em território hostil e várias vezes os rebeldes receberam informações importantes dos residentes locais que lhes permitiram obter vantagem. Finalmente, Forrest confrontou as exaustos soldados da União. Sob uma bandeira de trégua, eles discutiram os termos de rendição em 3 de maio. Forrest tinha apenas 600 homens, menos da metade do que Streight agora possuía. Mas Forrest espalhou seus homens pela floresta. Ao se encontrar com Streight, mensageiros de unidades inexistentes chegaram com relatórios. Streight mordeu a isca e concordou em se render. Quando os confederados finalmente surgiram para reunir o armamento do ianque, o coronel da União percebeu que havia sido capturado pelo astuto Forrest.


No início de 1863, o general Charles Hamilton, comandante da seção de Corinto da divisão de Grant, sugeriu o que mais tarde se tornaria o ataque de Grierson. Posteriormente, devido à insistência de Hamilton em obter um comando que lhe renderia mais glória, Hamilton ofereceu sua renúncia. Grant aceitou rapidamente. [3]

No Western Theatre da Guerra Civil Americana, a cavalaria confederada invade comandantes como o tenente-general Nathan Bedford Forrest e o Brig. O general John Hunt Morgan havia assediado as expedições da União, nomeadamente na Batalha de Encruzilhada de Parker, onde Forrest capturou trezentos soldados da União sob o comando do Brig. Gen. Jeremiah C. Sullivan, mas perdeu todas as peças de artilharia pertencentes ao seu próprio comando. [4] A tarefa de chamar a atenção dos invasores confederados para longe do cerco de Vicksburg coube ao coronel Benjamin Grierson, um ex-professor de música que não gostava de cavalos depois de ser chutado na cabeça por um deles quando criança. A brigada de cavalaria de Grierson consistia nos 6º e 7º Illinois e 2º regimentos de cavalaria de Iowa.

Grierson e seus 1.700 soldados montados, alguns em uniformes confederados servindo como batedores para a força principal, cavalgaram mais de 600 milhas (970 km) através de território hostil (do sul do Tennessee, através do estado do Mississippi e em Baton Rouge, Louisiana) , sobre rotas que nenhum soldado da União havia percorrido antes. Eles rasgaram ferrovias e incendiaram dormentes, libertaram escravos, incendiaram depósitos confederados, destruíram locomotivas e depósitos de comissários, rasgaram pontes e cavaletes, incendiaram edifícios e infligiram dez vezes as baixas que receberam, ao mesmo tempo que destacamentos de seus soldados faziam fintas para confundir as tropas confederadas quanto ao seu paradeiro real, intenção e direção. O total de vítimas da Brigada de Grierson durante a operação foi de três mortos, sete feridos e nove desaparecidos. Cinco homens doentes e feridos foram deixados para trás ao longo do caminho, doentes demais para continuar.

O tenente-general confederado John C. Pemberton, comandante da guarnição de Vicksburg, tinha pouca cavalaria e nada podia fazer para deter Grierson.

Em 21 de abril de 1863, o comandante da cavalaria confederada, major-general Nathan Bedford Forrest, capturou outro invasor da União, o coronel Abel Streight, no Alabama, após um ataque mal fornecido e planejado (Raid de Streight).

Embora muitas outras unidades de cavalaria confederadas perseguissem Grierson vigorosamente em todo o estado (mais notavelmente aquelas lideradas por Wirt Adams e Robert V. Richardson), elas não tiveram sucesso em impedir o ataque. [1] Grierson e seus soldados, exaustos por dias na sela, finalmente chegaram a Baton Rouge, na Louisiana, ocupada pela União. [5] Com uma divisão inteira de soldados de Pemberton ocupada defendendo a vital ferrovia Vicksburg-Jackson da evasiva Grierson, combinada com a finta do Major General William T. Sherman a nordeste de Vicksburg (a Batalha de Snyder's Bluff), os confederados sitiados foram incapaz de reunir as forças necessárias para se opor ao eventual desembarque de Grant abaixo de Vicksburg, no lado leste do Mississippi em Bruinsburg.

O filme Os soldados a cavalo, dirigido por John Ford e estrelado por John Wayne, William Holden e Constance Towers, e o romance de Harold Sinclair de mesmo nome no qual se baseia, são variações fictícias do Raid de Grierson.


Lovina McCarthy Streight

Lovina McCarthy Streight (1830-1910) acompanhou seu marido, o General Brigadeiro da União Abel Streight no Western Theatre durante a Guerra Civil. Streight é mais conhecido por Streight & # 8217s Raid através do Tennessee e do norte do Alabama. Sua missão foi frustrada quando o general Nathan Bedford Forrest da CSA cercou a cavalaria da União e levou Streight e a maioria de sua brigada para a prisão de Libby, da qual Streight mais tarde escapou. Ele foi restaurado ao seu comando e continuou a servir para equilibrar a guerra.

Imagem: Este retrato de Lovina McCarthy Streight está pendurado na Câmara Estadual de Indiana

Lovina McCarthy nasceu em 1830 no condado de Steuben, Nova York. Abel Streight também nasceu em 17 de junho de 1828, no condado de Steuben, Nova York, mas mudou-se para Cincinnati, Ohio, quando jovem. Lovina McCarthy casou-se com Abel Streight em 14 de janeiro de 1849. Eles tiveram um filho, John Streight. Em 1859, eles moravam em Indianápolis, Indiana, onde Streight era uma editora de livros e mapas. Ele também foi o autor de A crise de mil oitocentos e sessenta e um no governo dos Estados Unidos, publicado em 1861.

Quando a Guerra Civil estourou, Abel Streight juntou-se ao exército da União em setembro de 1861 como coronel na cinqüenta e primeira infantaria de Indiana, que estava ligada ao Exército de Cumberland. A maioria das esposas em sua situação esperou em casa que seus maridos voltassem da guerra, mas não Lovina. Ela acompanhou o marido enquanto ele conduzia seus homens para o sul, trazendo com ela seu filho de cinco anos.

Lovina testemunhou várias batalhas, cuidou de doentes e moribundos no campo de batalha e em hospitais de campanha. Sua compaixão e bravura lhe renderam o título de & # 8216Mãe dos Cinquenta e um. & # 8217 Durante seu serviço durante a guerra, as tropas confederadas capturaram Lovina três vezes, duas vezes trocando-a por prisioneiros. Ela teria escapado da prisão pela terceira vez, brandindo uma arma escondida em suas saias.

Streight & # 8217s Raid
Embora finalmente tenha alcançado o posto de Brigadeiro-General, Abel Streight não teve muito sucesso como comandante militar. Em julho de 1862, Streight serviu como parte da força de ocupação federal no norte do Alabama. Durante esse breve período, ele interagiu rotineiramente com os sindicalistas do norte do Alabama e recrutou muitos para o exército federal, mas superestimou seus números. Esse equívoco, compartilhado por muitos comandantes militares federais e pelo presidente Abraham Lincoln, pôs em risco os planejados ataques da União meses antes de seu início.

Em 1863, o coronel Streight propôs um plano ao general James A. Garfield para reunir uma força, incluindo os sindicalistas do Alabama, para fazer um ataque ao sul. A intenção de Streight & # 8217 era interromper a Western & amp Atlantic Railroad entre Chattanooga e Atlanta, que fornecia ao Exército Confederado do Tennessee. Garfield deu sua permissão.

A força de Streight & # 8217 deveria incluir aproximadamente 1.700 soldados montados adequadamente para viagens e ataques rápidos. No entanto, devido em grande parte à escassez de tempo de guerra, a brigada Streight & # 8217s foi montada em mulas resistentes e intactas recentemente adquiridas de fazendas no oeste do Tennessee, incluindo duas companhias de Unionistas na 1ª Cavalaria do Alabama (EUA).

O resto do regimento estava servindo sob o comando do general Grenville Dodge fora de Corinth, Mississippi, sob o comando do general Ulysses S. Grant e # 8216s Exército do Tennessee. A missão da Dodge & # 8217s era rastrear Streight enquanto ele se movia de barco do Tennessee, depois por terra através do norte do Alabama em direção à Geórgia.

Em 19 de abril de 1863, a brigada de Streight & # 8217s abordou vários barcos em Nashville que transportaram a força para o sul no rio Tennessee e desembarcou em Eastport, Mississippi. Naquela noite, uma debandada espalhou aproximadamente 400 mulas da brigada & # 8217s na zona rural circundante, causando um atraso enquanto Streight esperava em Eastport por um carregamento de mulas.

Dois dias depois, em 21 de abril, Streight encontrou-se com Dodge e seus 8.000 cavaleiros e mudou-se para Tuscumbia, Alabama. Durante a marcha, os escaramuçadores que se destacaram da divisão CSA General Nathan Bedford Forrest & # 8216s impediram os movimentos federais.

Muitas das mulas nas quais os homens de Streight & # 8217s cavalgavam estavam intactas, velhas ou incapazes de carregar seus cavaleiros por grandes distâncias sem paradas frequentes. Os confederados lançaram insultos à brigada, referindo-se a eles como a Cavalaria Jackass. Espectadores divertidos, observando os soldados cavalgando mulas pelo campo, embaraçaram os homens e diminuíram seus movimentos.

Quando Streight deixou Tuscumbia no final de 26 de abril, uma forte tempestade tornou as estradas praticamente intransitáveis, forçando-o a fazer uma parada não programada em Mount Hope, Alabama. Lá, Dodge informou a Streight que os dois não se encontrariam em Moulton, como planejado anteriormente. Dodge relatou que seu comando havia conduzido Forrest bem ao norte, abrindo caminho para Streight continuar a incursão sem ser molestado.

Os movimentos do Dodge & # 8217s, no entanto, não impediram Forrest. À medida que Streight se movia para o leste, o moral de seu comando melhorava temporariamente, pois o tempo seco e a captura de várias carroças de suprimentos dos confederados animavam seus espíritos. O clima mudou, no entanto, quando os olheiros da União avistaram confederados se movendo ao longo de seus flancos direito e esquerdo, ameaçando cercar todo o comando.

A brigada de Streight & # 8217s chegou a Sand Mountain, onde foi interceptado pela cavalaria de Forrest & # 8217s. Durante a Batalha do Dia & # 8217s Gap em 30 de abril de 1863, os homens de Streight & # 8217s frustraram a tentativa de Forrest & # 8217s de cercá-lo pela retaguarda com uma série de cargas lideradas pelo septuagésimo terceiro Illinois e pelo quinquagésimo primeiro Indiana.

Sem desanimar, algumas horas depois Forrest retomou o ataque a Streight, cujos homens desmontaram e ocuparam um cume ao longo da Montanha Hog em preparação para o que eles acreditavam ser uma força maior. Novamente os homens de Streight & # 8217 repeliram vários ataques e então retomaram a marcha em um ritmo acelerado, o que lhes permitiu emboscar uma porção da cavalaria de Forrest & # 8217s perto de Blountsville.

Enquanto os homens de Streight & # 8217s pressionavam em direção a Gadsden, Alabama, a presença constante de Forrest & # 8217 atrás das forças da União impediu Streight de descansar suas tropas e mulas cansadas, que se mostraram muito lentas para ultrapassar os cavaleiros de Forrest & # 8217s. E seu zunido constante permitiu que os batedores do Forrest & # 8217s detectassem a força do Streight & # 8217s a mais de três quilômetros de distância.

Na tarde de 2 de maio, Streight cruzou Black Creek (três milhas de Gadsden) à frente de Forrest e queimou a única ponte próxima, impedindo a perseguição dos confederados. Streight logo percebeu que sua cavalaria não poderia fugir de Forrest por muito tempo, e ele precisava desesperadamente chegar à cidade de Roma, Geórgia. Lá, Streight pretendia lutar por trás de alguns parapeitos preparados às pressas.

Sem que ele soubesse, as ações de dois civis locais frustraram seus planos. Incapaz de usar a ponte para cruzar o inchado Black Creek, Forrest cavalgou até uma casa próxima para encontrar um guia. Ele encontrou Emma Sansom, de 16 anos, com cuja orientação ele localizou um vau, cruzou-o e alcançou a força de Streight & # 8217s.

Enquanto isso, o residente de Gadsden, John Wisdom, correu 67 milhas até Roma, onde alertou os residentes sobre a aproximação das tropas da União. Como resultado de suas ações, os habitantes de Roma repeliram um destacamento da cavalaria de Streight & # 8217s enviada para ocupar uma ponte vital que cruzava o rio Coosa, bloqueando assim a única rota disponível para a cidade. Streight então virou para oeste em busca de outro cruzamento, mas acabou abandonando a busca.

Em Cedar Bluff, Alabama, Streight parou para um descanso muito necessário. Muitos de seus cavaleiros estavam caminhando devido à morte de numerosas mulas. A cavalaria de Forrest & # 8217s cercou Streight e seus 1700 invasores. Em vez de enfrentar a possível aniquilação pelo que ele acreditava ser um inimigo numericamente superior, Streight rendeu seu comando em 3 de maio de 1863.

Durante as negociações, Forrest astuciosamente reafirmou a crença de Streight & # 8217s de que os confederados superavam em muito sua brigada fazendo com que os cavaleiros confederados cavalgassem repetidamente em círculos dentro e fora da visão de Streight & # 8217s ao longo de uma crista vizinha.

Quando Forrest & # 8217s 500 homens apareceram após a rendição, Streight com raiva exigiu que ele fosse autorizado a renegar a rendição, mas Forrest recusou. A derrota foi especialmente amarga para os soldados da Primeira Cavalaria do Alabama (EUA), que arriscaram suas famílias e casas para defender a União, apesar da decisão do estado de se separar.

Os confederados transportaram Streight e a maioria de sua brigada para a prisão Libby em Richmond, Virgínia. Durante a árdua viagem, muitos de seus soldados cansados ​​e desnutridos sucumbiram à doença e muitos morreram na prisão, perdendo aproximadamente 200 no total.

O Raid Streight & # 8217s foi um fracasso abismal como resultado de suprimentos inadequados, má comunicação entre os comandantes federais, estimativas exageradas de forças confederadas e sindicalistas locais e má sorte. Além disso, Streight foi impedido por moradores durante sua marcha, enquanto era perseguido por Forrest, que tinha a vantagem de seu território e da simpatia e ajuda da população local.

No final, os invasores não conseguiram interromper as linhas de abastecimento do Exército do Tennessee e # 8217s e não tiveram impacto nas batalhas travadas no centro do Tennessee e no noroeste da Geórgia durante o verão e outono de 1863. No norte do Alabama e no noroeste da Geórgia, relatos de Forrest & # O heroísmo da década de 8217 elevou ainda mais seu status já mítico.

Tão importante quanto, o estado do Alabama e a Confederação adquiriram uma heroína do tempo de guerra, Emma Sansom, cujas façanhas mais tarde reforçariam as noções pós-guerra que enfatizavam os sacrifícios e contribuições das mulheres confederadas durante uma guerra perdida pelos homens do sul. A cidade de Gadsden ergueu um monumento a Sansom em 1906.

Em 9 de fevereiro de 1864, após nove meses de prisão, Abel Streight e 107 outros soldados escaparam da prisão abrindo túneis sob seus quartéis e foi um dos 59 que escapou da captura e conseguiu a liberdade. Streight cruzou o território inimigo e, ao retornar, apresentou um relatório de interrogatório aos comandantes da União.

Eventualmente, Streight foi restaurado ao serviço ativo sendo colocado no comando da 1ª Brigada, 3ª Divisão, IV Corpo de exército. Ele participou das Batalhas de Franklin e Nashville no Tennessee. Streight foi promovido a brigadeiro general do exército voluntário em 13 de março de 1865 e renunciou ao exército em 16 de março de 1865.

Imagem: General Abel Streight

Após a guerra, Streight retomou imediatamente seu negócio editorial. Em 1866, ele e Lovina construíram uma nova casa na Washington Street em Indianápolis, mas em 1876 eles também possuíam uma propriedade na Estrada Nacional, duas milhas a leste de Indianápolis. Ele também abriu uma empresa madeireira e possuía extensas propriedades de terra.

Em 1876, Streight concorreu com sucesso a uma cadeira no senado estadual de Indiana, cumprindo um mandato de dois anos. Em 1880, ele concorreu como candidato republicano para governador de Indiana, mas foi derrotado. Em 1888 foi novamente eleito senador estadual.

Abel Streight morreu em Indianápolis em 1892, e Lovina enterrou o marido no gramado da frente de sua casa. Ela teria declarado no dia do funeral: & # 8220Eu nunca soube onde meu marido estava quando ele morava, então eu o enterrei aqui. Agora eu sei onde ele está. & # 8221 Ela organizou uma reunião anual do Regimento 51, e os soldados se reuniram em sua casa e acamparam em seu gramado durante a Feira do Estado.

Lovina também abraçou o espiritualismo & # 8211 a crença de que os espíritos dos mortos podem se comunicar com os vivos. Qualquer pessoa pode receber mensagens espirituais, mas as sessões formais de comunicação (sessões) são realizadas por médiuns. O espiritismo atingiu seu pico de crescimento no número de membros da década de 1840 até a década de 1920.

O filho único de Lovina, John, morreu com cerca de cinquenta anos em 1905.

Lovina McCarthy Streight morreu em 5 de junho de 1910 e foi enterrada no cemitério Crown Hill em Indianápolis com todas as honras militares. Cinco mil pessoas compareceram ao funeral, incluindo 64 sobreviventes dos Cinquenta e um Voluntários de Indiana.

O corpo de Abel Streight & # 8217 foi exumado do gramado da frente da casa da família e enterrado ao lado de sua esposa. Lovina comprou o terreno em 1902 e contratou Ralph Schway para esculpir um busto de bronze de seu marido para o memorial.

O testamento de Lovina Streight & # 8217s, apresentado em 1902, estipulava que suas propriedades e posses fossem administradas por curadores públicos com o propósito de estabelecer um lar para mulheres idosas.

Cinco de seus parentes contestaram o testamento, afirmando que Lovina não estava bem quando assinou o documento. Amigos de Lovina discordaram, e o caso foi a tribunal em 1912. As evidências das excentricidades de Lovina citadas por seus parentes incluíam a prática de fazer piquenique no túmulo de seu marido, vestindo roupas brilhantes e dançando com as crianças da vizinhança. O júri concordou que Lovina não estava de bom juízo e um juiz declarou o testamento inválido. Os herdeiros de Lovina & # 8217s venderam a casa em 30 de dezembro de 1915.


Raid de Streight

Abel D. Streight Streight's Raid, uma campanha da Guerra Civil conduzida pelo coronel do Exército dos EUA Abel D. Streight de 19 de abril a 3 de maio de 1863, para destruir partes da Western & amp Atlantic Railroad, teve pouco efeito sobre as tentativas federais de derrotar o Exército Confederado do Tennessee. Seu significado principal reside nas lendas que cresceram em torno da captura de Streight e seus homens pelo general confederado Nathan Bedford Forrest, com a ajuda de Emma Sansom, perto da atual cidade de Gadsden. Grenville Dodge Em março de 1863, o general William Starke Rosecrans do Exército dos EUA ordenou a Streight que organizasse uma brigada provisória para conduzir um ataque montado no norte do Alabama e no noroeste da Geórgia, onde atingiria a Western & amp Atlantic Railroad, um dos membros do Exército Confederado do Tennessee artérias de abastecimento localizadas no noroeste da Geórgia. A brigada de Streight continha porções dos regimentos de cavalaria First West Tennessee e First Alabama (EUA), e do Terceiro Ohio, Cinqüenta e um Indiana, Setenta e terceiro Illinois e oitenta regimentos de infantaria de Illinois, totalizando aproximadamente 1.700 soldados. Na falta de cavalos, a maioria da infantaria de Streight montou em mulas temperamentais recentemente adquiridas em fazendas no oeste do Tennessee. Muitas das mulas estavam intactas, velhas ou incapazes de carregar seus cavaleiros por grandes distâncias sem paradas frequentes. Os curiosos divertidos que observaram a grande massa de soldados federais cavalgando mulas pelo campo embaraçaram os homens e reduziram seus movimentos. Durante o ataque, os confederados lançaram insultos contra a brigada, referindo-se a eles como a "Cavalaria Jackass". Sem dúvida, a falta de cavalos teve um efeito negativo no moral da tropa. Philip Roddey Mules não era o único problema. O sucesso do ataque também dependeu do Brig. A habilidade do general Grenville Dodge de rastrear os movimentos de Streight da cavalaria confederada comandada pelo general Forrest, bem como da cavalaria liderada pelo coronel Phillip Roddey, ambos parte do Exército do Tennessee. Em 19 de abril de 1863, a brigada de Streight abordou vários barcos em Nashville que transportaram a força para o sul no rio Tennessee e desembarcaram em Eastport, Mississippi. Naquela noite, uma debandada espalhou aproximadamente 400 mulas da brigada para o campo circundante, causando um atraso enquanto Streight esperava em Eastport por um carregamento de mulas. Dois dias depois, Streight encontrou-se com Dodge e seus 8.000 cavaleiros e mudou-se para Tuscumbia, no condado de Colbert. Durante a marcha, escaramuçadores que se destacaram da divisão de Forrest impediram os movimentos federais. Em Tuscumbia, Streight e Dodge se separaram, com Streight cavalgando em direção a Moulton, no condado de Lawrence, e Dodge protegendo o movimento indo para o norte na esperança de distrair Forrest e Roddey. Quando Streight deixou Tuscumbia no final de 26 de abril, uma forte tempestade tornou as estradas praticamente intransitáveis, forçando-o a fazer uma parada não programada em Mount Hope, no condado de Lawrence. Lá, Dodge informou a Streight que os dois não se encontrariam em Moulton, como planejado anteriormente. Dodge relatou que seu comando havia conduzido Forrest para o norte, abrindo caminho para Streight continuar a incursão sem ser molestado. Os movimentos de Dodge, no entanto, não detiveram Forrest, que perseguia de perto a "Brigada Jackass". Emma Sansom Na tarde de 2 de maio, Streight cruzou Black Creek (localizado a três milhas de Gadsden) à frente de Forrest e queimou a única ponte próxima, impedindo a perseguição dos confederados. Streight logo percebeu que sua cavalaria não poderia fugir de Forrest por muito tempo e precisava desesperadamente chegar à cidade de Roma, Geórgia. Lá, Streight pretendia lutar contra o que ele acreditava ser o inimigo numericamente superior por trás de alguns parapeitos preparados às pressas. Sem que ele soubesse, as ações de dois moradores frustraram seus planos. Incapaz de usar a ponte para cruzar o inchado Black Creek, Forrest cavalgou até uma casa próxima para encontrar um guia. Ele encontrou Emma Sansom, de 16 anos, com cuja orientação ele localizou o vau, cruzou-o e alcançou a força de Streight. Enquanto isso, o operador da balsa John Wisdom encontrou as tropas que queimaram sua balsa no rio Coosa em Gadsden e correu 67 milhas para Roma, onde alertou os residentes sobre a aproximação das tropas americanas. Como resultado de suas ações, os habitantes de Roma repeliram um destacamento da cavalaria de Streight enviado para ocupar uma ponte vital que cruzava o rio Coosa, bloqueando assim a única rota disponível para a cidade. Streight então virou para oeste em direção ao Centro, em busca de outro cruzamento. Seu comando exausto, porém, abandonou a busca. Nathan Bedford Forrest Em Cedar Bluff, os homens de Streight pararam para um descanso muito necessário. Muitos dos cavaleiros estavam caminhando devido à morte de numerosas mulas. Para piorar as coisas, durante uma escaramuça recente, os soldados souberam que a maior parte de sua munição se tornou inútil devido à exposição à água. Lá em Cedar Bluff, Forrest e seus 500 homens cercaram Streight e seus homens. Em vez de enfrentar uma possível aniquilação, Streight decidiu render seu comando. Durante as negociações, Forrest astuciosamente reafirmou o equívoco de Streight de que os confederados superavam em muito sua brigada. Para reforçar o estratagema, a artilharia de Forrest andava repetidamente em círculos para dentro e para fora do campo de visão de Streight ao longo de uma crista vizinha. Em 3 de maio de 1863, Streight se rendeu, convencido de que havia sido capturado por um inimigo numericamente superior. Quando a divisão menor de Forrest apareceu após a rendição, Streight furiosamente exigiu que seus homens renegassem a rendição, mas Forrest recusou. A derrota foi especialmente amarga para os soldados da Primeira Cavalaria do Alabama (EUA), que arriscaram suas famílias e casas para defender os Estados Unidos, apesar da decisão de seu estado de se separar. Os confederados transportaram Streight e a maioria de sua brigada para a prisão Libby em Richmond, Virgínia. Durante a árdua viagem, muitos de seus soldados cansados ​​e desnutridos sucumbiram a doenças e muitos morreram na prisão, com aproximadamente 200 perdidos no total. Em 1864, Streight e 107 outros prisioneiros escaparam por um intrincado sistema de túneis.

O Ataque de Streight foi um fracasso abismal como resultado de suprimentos inadequados, má comunicação entre os comandantes federais, estimativas exageradas de forças confederadas e sindicalistas locais e má sorte. Enquanto Nathan Bedford Forrest, e em menor grau Emma Sansom, são creditados por frustrar o ataque, seu fracasso teve menos a ver com as ações dos confederados do que com os contratempos de seus colegas federais. No final, os invasores não conseguiram interromper as linhas de abastecimento do Exército do Tennessee e não tiveram impacto nas batalhas travadas no meio do Tennessee e no noroeste da Geórgia durante o verão e outono de 1863, e sofreram uma derrota humilhante. No norte do Alabama e no noroeste da Geórgia, relatos sobre os atos heróicos de Forrest elevaram ainda mais seu status já mítico. Em 1908, a cidade de Roma dedicou a primeira estátua comissionada para homenagear o famoso cavaleiro confederado e primeiro Grande Mago da Ku Klux Klan. Tão importante quanto, o estado do Alabama e a Confederação adquiriram uma heroína do tempo de guerra, Emma Sansom, cujas façanhas mais tarde reforçariam as noções pós-guerra que enfatizavam os sacrifícios e contribuições das mulheres confederadas durante uma guerra perdida pelos homens do sul. A cidade de Gadsden ergueu um monumento a Sansom em 1906. O Crooked Creek Civil War Museum em Vinemont, Cullman County, preserva o local da escaramuça e interpreta sua história.

Hurst, Jack. Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography. Nova York: Vintage Press, 1993.


Etowah County

Maior venda de jardas do mundo Localizado no canto nordeste do estado, o condado de Etowah tem sido um centro industrial do Alabama desde o século XIX. É o local de nascimento de William Patrick Lay, o fundador da Alabama Power Company. A cidade de Gadsden desempenhou um papel importante na Guerra Civil e na Segunda Guerra Mundial e é o ponto de partida para a Venda de Jardas mais longa do mundo, um evento multiestadual de três dias que se estende por mais de 690 milhas e culmina em Addison, Michigan. O condado é governado por uma comissão eleita de seis membros e inclui 13 comunidades incorporadas.
  • Data de Fundação: 7 de dezembro de 1866
  • Área: 542 milhas quadradas
  • População: 103.363 (estimativa do Censo de 2016)
  • Principais hidrovias: Rio Coosa
  • Principais rodovias: I-59, U.S. 431, U.S. 278, U.S. 411, U.S. 11
  • Assento do condado: Gadsden
  • Maior cidade: Gadsden
Tribunal do condado de Etowah O condado de Etowah foi criado por um ato da legislatura do estado do Alabama em 7 de dezembro de 1866, a partir de partes dos condados Cherokee e DeKalb. O condado foi estabelecido em 1866 e recebeu o nome de Condado de Baine em homenagem ao general confederado David W. Baine. No ano seguinte, porém, foi abolido pelo governo estadual, que estava sob o controle dos republicanos durante a Reconstrução. Um ano depois, o condado foi restabelecido como condado de Etowah, com o nome sendo escolhido como uma palavra Cherokee que na época significava "árvore comestível". A origem mais provável do nome é a palavra italwa, que significa "cidade" na língua muskogeana dos Cherokees, Creeks e outras tribos do sudeste. Estátua de Emma Sansom O primeiro assentamento no que hoje é o condado de Etowah estava localizado em uma cidade chamada Double Springs, no rio Coosa. A Double Springs foi transformada em 4 de julho de 1845, quando o capitão James Lafferty pilotou o primeiro barco a vapor para a área. Os residentes locais se ofereceram para chamar a cidade de "Lafferty's Landing" em sua homenagem, mas Lafferty recusou. Em vez disso, o nome Gadsden foi escolhido, em homenagem ao Coronel James Gadsden da Carolina do Sul, famoso pela Compra de Gadsden. Em 2 de maio de 1863, durante o ataque do coronel Abel Streight ao norte do Alabama, um fazendeiro local chamado John Wisdom ganhou notoriedade quando correu à frente das tropas de Streight, que por sua vez estavam sendo perseguidas pelo general confederado Nathan Bedford Forrest, para Roma, Geórgia, para avisar os cidadãos da cidade da chegada iminente das tropas da União. Uma jovem chamada Emma Sansom se tornou uma heroína local durante o ataque quando ela liderou Forrest e seus homens através de Black Creek para capturar as tropas de Streight. Big Wills Creek Em 1903, o residente de Gadsden, William Patrick Lay, construiu sua primeira usina hidrelétrica em Big Wills Creek, que abasteceu a cidade de Attalla com eletricidade. Ele organizou a Alabama Power Company em 1906. Gadsden se tornou um importante centro militar durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial, quando a Gadsden Ordnance Plant foi construída para produzir projéteis para canhões. Ao final da guerra em 1945, a fábrica havia produzido mais de 16 milhões de conchas. Em 1942, os EUA tomaram posse de 36.300 acres em Etowah e no condado adjacente de St. Clair para estabelecer o primeiro Chemical Warfare Center (CWC) do Alabama. Conhecido como Camp Sibert, ele serviu como Centro de Treinamento de Unidade e Centro de Treinamento de Substituição para o CWC. Desativado em 1945, Camp Sibert foi o local de treinamento de mais de 45% de todas as tropas do CWS que serviram na Segunda Guerra Mundial. Em 1963, o condado de Etowah recebeu atenção da mídia nacional quando o trabalhador dos direitos civis William Moore foi assassinado perto de Attalla. H. Neely Henry Lake De acordo com as estimativas do Censo de 2016, a população do condado de Etowah era de 103.363. Desse total, 81,3 por cento dos entrevistados se identificaram como brancos, 15,4 por cento como afro-americanos e 3,6 por cento como hispânicos, 1,5 por cento como duas ou mais raças, 0,7 por cento como asiáticos, 0,5 por cento como nativos americanos e 0,1 por cento como havaianos ou do Pacífico Islander. A sede do condado, Gadsden, tinha uma população estimada de 36.856. Outras cidades do condado são Rainbow City, Attalla, Glencoe, Hokes Bluff, Sardis City, Southside, Altoona, Ridgeville e Mountainboro. A renda familiar média era de $ 40.478, em comparação com $ 44.758 para o estado como um todo, e a renda per capita era de $ 21.287, em comparação com $ 24.736 para o estado. Republic Steel in Gadsden Por causa de seu terreno ondulado e acidentado, o condado de Etowah nunca foi uma potência agrícola. Em vez disso, os recursos naturais do condado e a grande força de trabalho fizeram dele um dos centros industriais mais importantes do Alabama. Em 1845, a Coosa Furnace, localizada às margens do Big Wills Creek, tornou-se a primeira fornalha de ferro construída no condado. Em 1895, foi organizada a Dwight Mill na cidade do Alabama e, no auge de sua produção, em 1953, empregava 2.600 pessoas. The mill, which included a village, eventually closed after a series of labor disputes in 1959. In 1900, Underwood Coal Company was organized and later purchased by Alabama Steel. At one point, the company had 11 mines in operation near the town of Altoona. In 1929, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company constructed a plant in Gadsden. At the turn of the twenty-first century it remained the largest employer in the county, with 2,550 workers. On October 5, 2006, U.S. Steel workers went on strike at the plant, which left approximately half the workers without jobs. As of August 2007, Goodyear announced that it would spend close to $125 million to upgrade the plant. The second largest employer, Gulf States Steel, organized in 1903 and by 1998 employed 1,900 workers. In 2000, the company declared bankruptcy and closed.
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (23.8 percent)
  • Manufacturing (19.3 percent)
  • Retail trade (11.2 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (8.6 percent)
  • Construction (6.5 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (5.5 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (5.5 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (5.4 percent)
  • Public administration (4.7 percent)
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (4.2 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (2.8 percent)
  • Information (1.9 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.7 percent)
Etowah County Map Comprising approximately 542 square miles, Etowah County lies in the northeastern area of the state, wholly within the Cumberland Plateau physiographic section. It is bounded to the east by Cherokee County, to the south by Calhoun and St. Clair Counties, to the west by Blount and Marshall Counties, and to the north by DeKalb County.

Silver Lakes Gadsden is home to one of the state's most breathtaking geographic features, Noccalula Falls, a 90-foot waterfall. Every August, the World's Longest Yard Sale begins in Gadsden and in Alabama runs along the scenic Lookout Mountain Parkway. The three-day event attracts thousands of shoppers and yard-sale vendors to the area. The area also features Silver Lakes, a golf course on the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Lake H. Neely Henry features some of the area's best fishing, including crappie and largemouth, spotted, and striped bass. The Etowah Heritage Museum hosts exhibits relating to county history as well as a research library and a heritage tree park.

Etowah County Centennial Commission. A History of Etowah County, Alabama. Birmingham: Roberts and Son, 1968.


Streight's Raid

History of Alabama in 1863

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Streight's RaidBy Robert L. Willett

The men of the 1st Alabama Cavalry (USA) played a dual role in the raid that was conducted by Union Colonel Abel D. Streight in April 1863. The raid had a mission to cut the Confederate railroad that ran between Atlanta and Chattanooga, supplying General Braxton Bragg's army located in Tennessee.
While Streight's Provisional Brigade, four regiments of infantry mounted on balky and unbroken Yankee mules, included two companies of the 1st Alabama Cavalry, the rest of the regiment was serving under General Grenville Dodge in Corinth, Mississippi. Streight's cavalry was in the Army of the Cumberland while Dodge's command was under General Ulysses Grant's Army of the Tennessee. Dodge's mission was to screen Streight as he moved from Tennessee by boat, landing in Eastport, Mississippi and then moving overland toward Georgia. Dodge ran into several skirmishes with Confederate cavalry, but joined Streight near Eastport on April 21. Shortly after, Dodge retreated to Corinth while Streight set out for his objective, Rome, Georgia.
The raid was a disaster from the beginning. In Tennessee, Confederate cavalry legend Nathan Bedford Forrest discovered the raiders shortly after Dodge left the scene, and with four veteran regiments of cavalry began his pursuit on the poorly mounted Union raiders. The 1st Alabama scouts as the rearguard were under almost constant pressure from Forrest, and in spite of gallant conduct by the brigade exhaustion and lack of rations forced Streight to surrender to Forrest on May 3, 1863 near Cedar Bluff, Alabama.
In the week of the raid, the 1st Alabama Cavalry lost sixteen men killed, wounded, or missing. Captain David Smith, leader of the Streight Alabama companies was kept in Confederate prisons until finally released in early 1865. He died in the hospital in Annapolis, Maryland on April 18, 1865, nine days after Appomattox.


Sansom was born on June 2, 1847, near Social Circle, Georgia, to Micajah and Levina Vann Sansom, a niece of Cherokee leader James Vann. Around 1852, she and her family moved to a farm just outside Gadsden, Alabama. Her father died in 1858, by which time there were twelve children in her family. [1]

In April 1863, Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest was ordered into northern Alabama to pursue Union Colonel Abel Streight, who had orders to cut off the Confederate railroad near Chattanooga, Tennessee. On May 2, 1863, Streight arrived just outside Gadsden and prepared to cross Black Creek. Because the creek was swollen due to rain, Streight realized that if he destroyed the bridge he could get a few hours respite from the pursuit of Forrest. Seeing the nearby Sansom farmhouse, he rode upon it and demanded some smoldering coal, which he could use to burn the bridge. When Forrest's men arrived at the site, they found the burned out bridge and came under fire from Streight's men.

Forrest rode to the Sansom house and asked whether there was another bridge across the creek. Emma Sansom, then 16 years old, told him that the nearest bridge was in Gadsden, 2 miles away. Forrest then asked if there was a place where he could get across the creek. Emma told him that if one of his men would help saddle her horse, she would show him a place that she had seen cows cross the creek, and that he might be able to cross there. He replied that there was no time to saddle a horse and asked her to get on his horse behind him. As they started to leave, Emma's mother objected, but relented when Forrest assured her that he would bring the girl back safely. Emma then directed Forrest to the spot where he could cross the river. Some accounts of the skirmish indicate that the two came under fire from Union soldiers, who subsequently ceased fire when they realized that they had been firing on a teenage girl. After taking Emma back to her home, Forrest continued his pursuit of Streight, whom he was able to capture near Cedar Bluff on the following day. [1]

Emma's actions are noteworthy in that openly aiding Confederate forces could have subjected her and her family to prosecution (or even death) from the Union Army.

Sansom married Christopher B. Johnson on October 29, 1864, and moved to Texas in late 1876 or early 1877. She died August 9, 1900 in Upshur County, Texas, and is buried in Little Mound Cemetery. [1]

The actual crossing site was approximately 75 yards north of the point where modern Tuscaloosa Avenue crosses Black Creek in Gadsden.

In 1907, a monument was constructed in Gadsden at the western end of the Broad Street bridge across the Coosa River in honor of her actions. When the residents of Alabama City, Alabama (later annexed into Gadsden) built a high school in 1929, they named it in her honor. With the consolidation of the three Gadsden city high schools at the end of the 2006 school year, General Forrest Middle School was closed and Emma Sansom High School became Emma Sansom Middle School.


The Raid

Grierson and his 1,700 horse troopers, some in Confederate uniforms serving as scouts for the main force, rode over 600 miles (970   km) through hostile territory (from southern Tennessee, through the State of Mississippi and into Union-held Baton Rouge, Louisiana), over routes no Union soldier had traveled before. They tore up railroads and burned crossties, freed slaves, burned Confederate storehouses, destroyed locomotives and commissary stores, ripped up bridges and trestles, burned buildings, and inflicted ten times the casualties they received, all while detachments of his troops made feints confusing the Confederates as to his actual whereabouts, intent and direction. Total casualties for Grierson's Brigade during the raid were three killed, seven wounded, and nine missing. Five sick and wounded men were left behind along the route, too ill to continue.

Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, commander of the Vicksburg garrison, had few cavalry and could do nothing to stop Grierson.

On April 21, 1863, Confederate cavalry commander Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, had captured another Union raider, Col. Abel Streight, in Alabama following a poorly supplied and poorly planned raid (Streight's Raid).

Although many other Confederate cavalry units pursued Grierson vigorously across the state (most notably those led by Wirt Adams and Robert V. Richardson), they were unsuccessful in stopping the raid. [1] Grierson and his troopers, exhausted by days in the saddle, ultimately rode into Union-occupied Baton Rouge, Louisiana. [5] With an entire division of Pemberton's soldiers tied up defending the vital Vicksburg-Jackson railroad from the evasive Grierson, combined with Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's feint northeast of Vicksburg (the Battle of Snyder's Bluff), the beleaguered Confederates were unable to muster the forces necessary to oppose Grant's eventual landing below Vicksburg on the east side of the Mississippi at Bruinsburg.


Kentucky and the Civil War

My thanks to Rick Price and to Larry Muse for taking me to sites, and telling me background, of a sadly neglected action of America's greatest war. My day together with them was enjoyable and informative. Any errors in this blog are my own.

While I was in Alabama to give a talk on John Hunt Morgan's Great Ohio Raid, I had a chance to learn of a little-known action that eerily foreshadowed and paralleled it: Abel D. Streight's Alabama Raid. Like Morgan's Raid, Streight's involved a daring (some would say, "rash") penetration of enemy territory in hope of destroying vital resources, the capture of the raider's whole command, and the escape of its senior officers in a stunning jailbreak.

In the spring of 1863, after General Braxton Bragg had won and then lost the Battle of Murfreesboro, his Confederate Army of Tennessee was sitting at Tullahoma, Tennessee, southeast of Nashville. At Nashville itself, Major General William Rosecrans, commanding the Union Army of the Cumberland, was looking for a way to drive Bragg from Tullahoma so that Rosecrans could seize the key Confederate railroad crossing of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and open a route to the key Confederate manufacturing center of Atlanta, Georgia.

Rosecrans accepted a daring strategy modeled on highly successful Confederate cavalry raids led by the geniuses John Hunt Morgan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Joseph "Fighting Joe" Wheeler. Rosecrans planned to send a column of cavalry into the Deep South on a raid to destroy the Western and Atlantic Railroad, vital for supplying the Army of Tennessee, on a line from Eastport, Mississippi, to Rome, Georgia. If the railroad were destroyed, Bragg would have to retreat from Tullahoma into northern Georgia and abandon Chattanooga.

The strategy was a brainchild of an unlikely soldier, Colonel Abel D. Streight of Indiana. Like many another Federal officer in the war, he had no prewar military experience. Born in New York, he'd moved first to Cincinnati, Ohio, and then to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he made a living as a lumber merchant and as a publisher. Did he become a publisher to use paper made from his lumber? History doesn't say.

Streight proposed his raid to Brigadier General (and future president) James A. Garfield, Rosecrans's chief of staff, who recommended it to his superior. Rosecrans accepted the plan with a key change to it: because of wartime shortages, Streight and his 1,700 men would be riding, not horses, but mules. The change in steeds would be the first of many misfortunes to dog Streight. Trying to make lemonade from lemons, Streight christened his command "The Lightning Mule Brigade." As things would turn out, there'd be more mule than lightning.

Streight's command took a circuitous route to its mission's start. Setting out from Nashville on April 7, he traveled on foot or by riverboat first to Fort Henry, in northwestern Tennessee, and then due south to Eastport, Mississippi, on the Tennessee River, which he reached on April 19. On the road east from there, Streight's movements were guarded at first by cavalry led by Brigadier General Grenville M. Dodge, namesake of Dodge City, Kansas.

Streight met no significant opposition as he traveled east along the line of the Tennessee for nearly a week. During this time, he destroyed a major railroad depot and other military targets at Tuscumbia, Alabama. East of there, at Day's Gap, Streight, on April 30, ran into Confederate cavalry led by Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Streight's men drove off Forrest's assault on the Federal rearguard, but, as Federal cavalry would dog Morgan through Indiana and Ohio, Forrest's cavalry dogged Streight's command for the rest of its ride east.

Streight and Forrest clashed several times daily on the road to Gadsden, Alabama, which Streight reached on May 2. There, stealing a march on Forrest, Streight burned the bridge across Black Creek. Finding another crossing of this deep, swiftly flowing stream would, Streight hoped, delay Forrest long enough to let Streight and his command reach Rome, Georgia, with no further opposition.

Streight reckoned without a fifteen-year-old girl named Emma Sansom. When Forrest rode onto the Sansom farm to ask whether there were another bridge nearby, Emma volunteered to show Forrest another crossing of the creek. Riding in the saddle behind Forrest, she led him and his men to a cattle crossing that her family used. This would lead Forrest again into Streight's rear.

Some say that Emma and Forrest came under fire from Federal sharpshooters posted on a wooded bluff east of the creek others dispute this part of Emma's story. I can testify from my visit to the most likely spot for the crossing that it looked to me like a lovely spot for sharpshooters. A high, wooded ridge overlooking a ford &mdash what could be better than?

In any case, Emma Sansom became a local hero in Gadsden. Her family's graves and a prominent monument to her stand today in the median of U. S. 431 in downtown Gadsden. Forrest's crossing of Black Creek with Emma's aid is commemorated in memorial signage near the crossing's likely point. Because of changes in the creek bed over the past one hundred and fifty years, it may be impossible for us moderns to determine the exact site of Emma's ford.

The next day, Forrest brought Streight to bay at Cedar Bluff, east of Gadsden in northeastern Alabama's hill country. A pair of sharp ridges running parallel to each other let Forrest pull off one of the deceptions he was notorious for. Sending his horse artillery to deliver rapid fire from widely scattered points, and moving his men quickly about to appear and disappear beyond the ridge lines, Forrest, who had less than five hundred effectives on hand, convinced Streight, who still had nearly fifteen hundred effectives, of Forrest's having superior numbers. To these, Streight surrendered his command.

According to an eyewitness account, Streight, learning of Forrest's deception, angrily demanded that Forrest return Streight's weapons so that he and Forrest could finish battle on honorable terms. Forrest, showing perhaps more practicality than chivalry, laughingly refused Streight's demand. The site of the surrender is memorialized by a roadside marker.

From Cedar Bluff, Streight was taken as a prisoner of war to Richmond, Virginia, where he was kept in a wing of Libby Prison reserved for Federal officers. Oddly, there crossed Federal lines a rumor that Streight had, contrary to the laws of war, been confined to a civilian prison in Rome, Georgia.

This rumor would shape John Hunt Morgan's life when he was taken prisoner at the end of his Great Ohio Raid in July. Federal authorities used the rumor as cover for housing Morgan as a common criminal in the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. There, he tried to move Federal authorities to exchange him for Streight. When it became clear to Morgan that no exchange would take place, he and six of his officers tunneled out of the penitentiary and made their way back to Confederate lines.

What Morgan did in Columbus, Streight would do better in Richmond. Early in 1864, Streight and one hundred and seven other men tunneled out of Libby Prison. Streight made his way back to Union lines, where he received command of a brigade in an army being assembled around Nashville by Major General George Thomas. Streight would take part in the Battles of Franklin and Nashville and would, after the war, serve as a state senator in Indiana.


About the Faculty

Brian Steel Wills is a professor of history at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta. He is also the Director for the Center for the study of the Civil War Era. In addition to the biography on Forrest, he is also the author of the most recent biography General George Henry Thomas, As True as Steel. Another of his books is The War Hits Home: The Civil War in Southeastern Virginia. Last but certainly not least is his entertaining book Gone with the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema. Each of Brian’s works reveal an expansive view of history and its potential. His interpersonal interactions have proven him to be a popular and engaging speaker. You will enjoy your time with him.

Norm Dasinger is an Alabama businessman who has been completely immersed in history his entire life. Son of a father who was the National Chairman of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and a member of both Union and Confederate heritage/legacy groups and Revolutionary War heritage groups, Dasinger has led numerous tours in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee—often mixing the themes to maximize the experience for his clients. Norm is a member of the Blue and Gray Education Society and is a frequent contributor to the BGES Dispatches electronic publications. Norm is a man who walks his talk!


Textbook ‘Know Alabama’ Justified Slavery, Praised Confederacy to Schoolchildren

The textbook Know Alabama. Source: Scott Morris

As the Freedom Riders crossed the South in their fight for civil rights, schoolchildren in Alabama were reading about the bright side of slavery and the contributions of the Ku Klux Klan.

They were taught these lessons from “Know Alabama,” the standard fourth-grade history textbook in the state’s public schools. The book informed baby boomers and Generation Xers from the mid-1950s through the 1970s. Some of those students became the teachers who taught subsequent generations.

Both white and Black children were instructed from “Know Alabama” that plantation life was a joyous time and slaves were generally contented. They read that Confederates were brave heroes, and Reconstruction was a terrible time when carpetbaggers, scalawags and illiterate Blacks corrupted the state.

Today, with factions across Alabama caught up in a clash over the meaning of Confederate monuments and symbols, many are debating the true history of the South. Is it the version that Black Lives Matter protesters shout in the public square or the story taught in Southern schools during and after the fight over segregation?

The search for answers starts with the primary author of “Know Alabama.”

Frank L. Owsley grew up on a sprawling farm near Montgomery where his father profited by renting land to Black sharecroppers. A history professor at Vanderbilt University, Owsley was a member of the Twelve Southerners, or Southern Agrarians, who wrote a pro-Southern manifesto titled “I’ll Take My Stand.”

Critics say the group romanticized Lost Cause ideology and ignored the evils of slavery.

“Owsley was a dyed-in-the-wool racist who described the slaves as ‘savages’ and ‘cannibals,’ and who defended the South against what he saw as overly aggressive reconstructionists who wanted to give black civil rights and destroy Southern culture,” said Gordon Harvey, professor and history department head at Jacksonville State University. “When a racist writes your state history, you are going to get a warped portrayal of slavery and a celebration of the old South.”

The other authors were John Craig Stewart, former professor and director of creative writing at University of South Alabama in Mobile, and Gordon T. Chappell, professor and head of the Department of History and Political Science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

Harvey said an inaccurate picture of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction persists today because of textbooks such as “Know Alabama.” He knows this first hand because he was an Alabama fourth-grader in 1976-77 when the textbook was still in the classrooms.

“What we believe is seeded by teachers and parents, and also reinforced by them,” Harvey said. “If you are taught that slavery was good and the slaves were really freed after the war, then you will grow up with that internalized.

“The problem is that we have done a poor job of teaching teachers who teach our students about the complexities of history, the ills of slavery, and that slavery and the slaveholders had no redeeming values whatsoever. Further, we have failed to draw the line from slavery and emancipation to the issues African Americans face today.”

Best Of Times On The Plantation

At many points, contents of the 1961 edition of “Know Alabama” thunder into the age of Black Lives Matter with all the subtleness of a Confederate cavalry charge. At other points they hide like a wisteria-covered antebellum ruin, inviting closer scrutiny.

Now we come to one of the happiest ways of life in Alabama before the War Between the States.

This is “Know Alabama’s” introduction to slavery.

The authors do not explore what life was like with no freedom, with the ever-present threat of losing a loved one to the slave trade or of being whipped. They do not mention being worked from sunup to sundown in the Alabama heat to enrich a white planter.

“Now suppose you were a little boy or girl and lived in one of the plantation homes many years ago,” the book states as it takes its young audience on a romantic trip through antebellum times.

The Negro cook whom you call “Mammy” comes in bringing a great tray of food. You have known her all your life and love her very much. She was your nurse when you were a baby.

A page from Know Alabama. Source: Scott Morris

As with most other happily submissive slaves in this state-sanctioned version of history, Mammy smiles when she serves her masters.

The white boy in this historical fiction rides off on a horse alongside his father to observe slaves in the fields.

Most of them were treated kindly. There were a few masters who did not treat their slaves kindly. The first thing any good master thought about was the care of his slaves. … Many nights you have gone with your mother to the “quarters” where she cared for some sick person. She is the best friend the Negroes have, and they know it. …

As you ride up beside the Negroes in the field, they stop working long enough to look up, tip their hats and say, “Good morning, Master John.” You like the friendly way they speak and smile they show bright rows of white teeth.

“How’s it coming, Sam?” your father asks one of the old Negroes.

“Fine, Marse Tom, jes fine. We got ‘most more cotton than we can pick.” Then Sam chuckles to himself and goes back to picking as fast as he can.

After you return home for dinner and awake from your afternoon nap, it’s time to play “Indian” with a Black boy named “Jig.”

The authors of “Know Alabama” named the boy the shortened version of “jigaboo,” which Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as an “insulting and contemptuous term for a black person.”

The textbook explains “he got that name because he dances so well when the Negroes play their banjos.”

Jig comes up and says, “Let me play.”

And you say, “All right, but you be the captive Indian.”

“That will be fun,” Jig says, and he goes off gladly to be the Indian, to hide and to get himself captured.

Better Off A Slave?

Harvey said the description of slavery in books like “Know Alabama” is far from accurate.

“In these texts, slavery is depicted as a benign, almost benevolent, system that gave the slaves a better life than that which they had in their native lands,” he said. “Except, of course, the nagging detail that they were held in bondage, worked to death and repeatedly raped by slave owners.”

Sandwiched between the chapter in “Know Alabama” on slavery and a section on the Civil War is the biography of former Alabama slave Maria Fearing. After the U.S. victory in the Civil War, a free Fearing attended what was then called Talladega College for Negroes. Later, she went to Central Africa as a missionary.

While fourth-graders learned of Fearing’s achievements, they also received an inferred lesson: Slavery in the South saved Blacks from the poverty and savagery of Africa, where they were in danger of being eaten by cannibals.

Fearing’s mistress, Amanda Winston, told her about “the naked, barefoot children in Africa, who knew nothing about the true God.” Later, the authors say the African children were half-starved, with lice in their hair and sores all over their bodies.

Sometimes children, who had been kidnapped by cannibal tribes, were rescued by the missionaries.

The textbook points out that in Fearing’s last years she returned to the plantation where she was born to live with her nephew.

War Between The States

The authors of the 1961 edition of “Know Alabama” never used the term “Civil War.” In every reference, they taught children to call it the “War Between the States.”

Gaines M. Foster, a history professor at Louisiana State University, writes in The Journal of the Civil War Era that it matters what history calls the war. He said people in the North generally called it “the Rebellion” until they accepted the name “Civil War” in an attempt to appease the South and reunite the country.

In the first decades of the twentieth century, the major champion of the Lost Cause, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, campaigned for War Between the States to be the name of the war. They believed it testified to the legality of secession and therefore the existence of a Confederate nation. Indeed, the UDC argued that the “States” in the name referred not to the individual states but to the “United States” and the “Confederate States” — two independent nations.”

The UDC influenced and vetted the contents of school history textbooks and library books, including “Know Alabama,” according to historians. Even today, the UDC refers to the Civil War as the War Between the States.

The textbook describes slavery as a system of labor. The North did not have as much need for unskilled farm labor, the authors explain, and “did not fully understand the ways that slaves worked in the South.”

The Southerners had a right under the law to own slaves, and the Southern states had a right under the law to leave the United States. Many Southerners did not want to leave the Union. But when Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, the South felt that they had to leave the Union to keep their rights.

Harvey said the book portrays the war as a grand crusade for states rights, for freedom, to preserve the Southern lifestyle and protect the homeland from aggressive Northern attack.

“Of course, if you read the secession proclamations of each Southern state, you will see slavery as the primary reason they are seceding,” he said.

Harvey said he compares the stated causes of the Civil War to an apple pie.

“You can argue way of life, states rights and agrarian lifestyle, etc., but each of those causes has slavery as a central ingredient,” he said. “Like trying to eat apple pie without having a bite of apple in each slice.”

Southern Heroes, Northern Fools

Lke the sports editor of a small-town newspaper, it is clear whose team the authors of “Know Alabama” prefer.

The army of soldiers in gray grew larger and larger. Soon they were one of the best armies the world has ever known. The Southern men were brave fighters and their generals — Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson — were two of the greatest war leaders ever known. The North had more men, guns, and more food than the South. In four years of war, this “more” of everything finally caused the South to lose.

Know Alabama illustration of the story of Emma Sansom with Nathan Bedford Forrest.

The textbook devotes six full pages to Streight’s Raid across north Alabama, a comparably minor Union military operation that involved about 1,600 men. The raid ended in a humiliating surrender by Union troops to Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. This is the raid that elevated Emma Sansom of Gadsden to folk heroine status for showing Forrest a shallow spot where his men could ford a creek.

The story revels in Forrest’s success at tricking Union Col. Abel Streight into surrendering, despite the fact that Streight had 1,000 more men.

That is how the big raid of the “Yankees” in north Alabama ended. When all the guns were taken over by his own soldiers, General Forrest laughed out loud and said to his men, “Take a rest, boys.”

To make sure students fully understood who was brave and who was cowardly, the authors asked the following study questions:

Why did Colonel Streight tell his men to run when General Forrest caught up with them?

Why did Colonel Streight’s men hide?

How did General Forrest prove his bravery?

How did General Forrest fool Colonel Streight?

What lesson can be learned in Colonel Streight’s defeat by General Forrest?

“Know Alabama” also celebrates “great men from Alabama in the War Between the States.” These men include the “gallant” John Pelham of Alexandria, who was killed in Virginia, and Admiral Raphael Semmes, who lost his ship Alabama to the Union Navy.

There are no brave, gallant or heroic Yankees in “Know Alabama.” Instead, “they

stole jewelry, silver, and clothing. They sometimes killed people who would not tell where their money was hidden.”

Reconstruction Of The Reconstruction

After the Civil War and President Lincoln’s assassination, many leaders did not want to be “kind” to the South, according to “Know Alabama.” The textbook said activities during Reconstruction caused more bad feelings in the South than the war itself.

The book is particularly critical of the Freedmen’s Bureau, established to help newly freed Blacks find jobs and become citizens. Carpetbaggers and scalawags operated the Freedmen’s Bureau in Alabama, the book says.

“Carpetbaggers” were those people from the North who came to the South to live after the war. … Most of them were not honest men, and they came to steal and cheat people. They wanted to make money out of the helpless white and Negro Southerners. … The “scalawags” were Southerners who turned against their own people in the South.

Under the headline “THE TERRIBLE CARPETBAG RULE,” the textbook teaches schoolchildren that the carpetbaggers and scalawags tried to turn Blacks against their white friends.

They told them that the men who had been their masters were their enemies. They told the Negroes that they would soon own all the land.

The book stated that a new government formed in Alabama in October 1867 required people who wanted to vote to swear they had never helped the Confederacy in any way. At the same time, it said, the carpetbaggers told thousands of Blacks how to vote.

The state legislature in Montgomery was made up of carpetbaggers, scalawags and Negroes. The Negroes were nearly all field workers. They could not read and write. They did not know what it meant to run a government. The carpetbaggers used the Negroes to carry out their own plans, which were not for the good of the people.

Saved By The Klan

While “Know Alabama” considers carpetbaggers “terrible,” it has no such criticism of the Ku Klux Klan.

The loyal white men of Alabama saw they could not depend on the laws or the state government to protect their families. They knew they had to do something to bring back law and order, to get the government back in the hands of honest men who knew how to run it.

About this time, a group of men formed the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest was the first grand wizard.

The Klan did not ride often, only when it had to. But whenever some bad thing was done by a person who thought the carpetbag law would protect him, the white-robed Klan would appear on the streets. They would go to the person who had done the wrong and leave a warning. Sometimes this warning was enough, but if the person kept on doing the bad, lawless things the Klan came back again.

They held their courts in the dark forests at night they passed sentence on the criminals and they carried out the sentence. Sometimes the sentence would be to leave the state.

The textbook says no one knew who the Klansmen were or where they came from because they were sworn to secrecy.

After a while, the Klan struck fear in the hearts of the carpetbaggers and other lawless men who had taken control of the state. Many of the carpetbaggers went back north. Others who stayed in the South behaved themselves. The Negroes who had been fooled by the false promises of the carpetbaggers decided to get themselves jobs and settle down to make an honest living

Many of the Negroes in the South remained loyal to the white Southerners. Even though they had lately been freed from slavery, even though they had no education, they knew who their friends were. They knew that the Southern white men who had been good to them in the time of their slavery were still their friends. … Many of them helped to make the other Negroes understand they must be honest and keep the laws if they wanted to stay in the South.

When federal troops left and white men had restored order, the book states, there was no more need for the Klan.

“Know Alabama” does not mention the Jim Crow era that followed the departure of federal troops. Blacks were forbidden to vote and were stripped of any political influence. They were terrorized and became the victims of 340 known lynchings in Alabama from 1877 to 1950, according to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery.

Evolution of ‘Know Alabama’

“Know Alabama” underwent revisions through the years, with the most notable changes coming after complaints in 1970 by Black parents and criticism in the U.S. Senate that was reported in the national media.

The 1970 edition of “Know Alabama” stops using the UDC’s preferred name for the Civil War. It no longer introduces the chapter on slavery as “one of the happiest ways of life in Alabama before the War Between the States.”

Now we come to another way of life in Alabama before the Civil War. This is life as it was lived on the big plantations.

The textbook still uses the planter’s son to tell the story of antebellum life, but eliminates the Mammy and Jig characters. The same illustration of Mammy serving the family dinner, however, appears in the later book.

The newer edition still states most slaves were treated kindly, but it drops the part about the plantation owner’s wife being the slaves’ best friend. Then, it adds a new paragraph.

Most black people probably did not like being in a system of slavery. Most wanted their freedom. However, all but the most intelligent made the best of the situation and seemed to be fairly content.

The 1970 edition also includes a new chapter about free Blacks who lived in Alabama, particularly in Tuscaloosa County. The textbook says 80 free Blacks lived in the county in 1860.

The laws of the city and county of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, were in many cases just and fair to free Negroes.

Tuscaloosa County was also the site of seven lynchings after the Civil War.

The textbook retains the story of former slave Maria Fearing, who became a missionary to Africa. But it no longer describes the children of Africa as barefoot, naked, and covered in sores and lice.

In addressing the Civil War, the book states “wars have many causes. Slavery was only one of the causes of the Civil War.”

Much of the section on Reconstruction and the “terrible carpetbagger rule” remains intact, but it no longer claims whites had been good to slaves and had treated them as friends.

The later edition acknowledges the KKK “sometimes used violence and fear so that Alabama might be rid of the control of the carpetbaggers.” Instead of saying the Klan rode “only when it had to,” the book says it mobilized only when its members “thought they had to.”

Coming after forced integration of public schools and the civil rights movement, the textbook also makes additional statements to distance the KKK of Forrest’s day from the Klan of the modern era. It’s the good Klan, bad Klan argument.

There is no connection between the Ku Klux Klan of this period and similarly named organizations which were formed in the South in the 20 th Century. The primary purpose of the latter organizations was to gain political control and to maintain white supremacy. Violence and threats of violence often occurred as the Klan attempted to secure these ends.

Harvey said historians debate whether there were different Klans.

“Regardless, the Klan was at its start, as it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s and beyond, a terrorist paramilitary organization designed to fight back against Reconstruction forces in the South, force blacks when they had a vote to vote against their interests, and to harm and kill them when they dared disobey the rules of segregation,” Harvey said.

He said the Klan was designed to intimidate and kill free blacks in the South after the Civil War.

“Let’s not forget that Forrest was the man who ordered the Fort Pillow massacre, where his CSA troops gunned down federal troops, most of whom were free blacks, after they surrendered,” Harvey added.

Knowing the Real Alabama

The three authors of “Know Alabama” are no longer alive to defend their ideology and influence over tens of thousands of schoolchildren.

Owsley suffered a fatal heart attack in 1956 while conducting research in England, according to the Encyclopedia of Tennessee.

“Across a distinguished career, his work retained a singular theme,” the publication states. “Ending a lecture series presented to the University of Georgia’s faculty and students in 1938, he relished their applause because, in his words, ‘it was the rebel yell that I heard.’”

The effects of “Know Alabama” continue about 65 years after the state introduced it into fourth-grade classrooms, according to historians.

Harvey said that when we begin telling the truth about history, we might move forward as a society to deal with our “original sin” — slavery and racism.

“Until we come to terms in an open way and acknowledge what we have done — as a nation that dares defend our freedoms — to people of color who merely want freedom to exist and not be discriminated against or killed, then we will never fulfill the promise of America,” Harvey said.


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