Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 38.djvu/367
Emma Sansom, Heroine of Immortal Courage.
other direction. Early morning found the raiders pushing forward with all possible progress through rain, mud and across swollen streams, buoyed, however, by the hope of success. Again at nightfall they rested, but on the morning of the 29th, scarcely beyond midnight, they once more rode off in the darkness and the rain.
Forrest and his band of 1,000 men had cut loose from in front of Dodge, and they, too, were riding through the night with its ceaseless downpour, in hot pursuit of the confident raiders, and only sixteen miles behind them.
On through these early hours the two bodies of soldiers rode, Streight bound for Rome, Ga., and Forrest bent on capturing Streight. Both forces moved along at a steady gait, and by night of the 29th, the Federals, after having swept the country clean for a swath of several miles on each side of the road, of all the mules and horses, firearms and forage, rode into Day's Gap, the gorge that leads to the summit of Sand Mountain. Here the raiders rested for the night, as quiet and supposedly secure as the Sidonians of old.
Forrest's men rode on in dogged pursuit, mile after mile, with only one hour's rest for man and beast. By midnight they were only four miles behind their quarry. Knowing that his men must have food and rest, Forrest ordered a halt, and soon his band, all except the famous "Forty Scouts," were deep in sleep upon the ground, a thousand inanimate bundles in blankets and oilcloths.
At daylight Streight moved forward, but before he had proceeded two miles his rear guard was attacked by Forrest.The following three days' contest across Sand Mountain, as these contending foes struggled to outwit, outfight and over-master each the other, affords a dramatic spectacle rarely equaled in military annals. The setting was most auspicious for the tragic action—a rugged country with precipitous cliffs and deep ravines, cut across here and there with leaping streams; the combatants, two bands of men who were soldiers all, patriots all, venturing for their consciences' sake that for which it is said a man will forswear all things else, his life; the roar of cannon, the rattle of musketry, the clank of crossed swords, the silences