Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 38.djvu/368
Southern Historical Society Papers.
of ambush, the cries of victory, the groans of death! And over all, now April showers had ceased, clear spring skies of the silver rays of the southern moon.
The Alabama soldiers, with the Federals, were familiar with the passes, and this fact was of service to Streight, for with his dreaded foe at his heels, and detachments circling around the mountain sides endeavoring to form a juncture to meet his advance, he seemed to be caught in a trap. As he ascended the western crest of the mountain, which is the southwestern termination of the great Appalachian range, and looked below to the valley which surrounded him, the bold Indianian saw that he was in a capital position to make a stand. He laid an ambush which was measurably effective. Counter-strategem and some vigorous fighting followed, in which Forrest's only two cannon were captured and a number of men and horses killed on both sides.
The "Wizard of the Saddle" told his band that their guns must be retaken if every man died in the attempt, and that they must dismount, hitch their horses to saplings and begin their task, assuring them that if they did not succeed they would never need their horses again. The "fiery, turbulent spirits" under him loved to execute just such desperate orders as their beloved chef was giving them, for they had charged with him at Shiloh, escaped with him from Fort Donaldson, made glory with him at Murfreesboro, at Thompson's Station, at Brentwood, and they knew the inflexible dauntlessnes of the man.From this moment there was a running fight across Sand Mountain, with death to mark the trail. Streight advanced as rapidly as possible, and when finding—his rear too hard pressed would take his stand and fight or ambuscade his adversary. Forrest harried him constantly, attempting to circle around him, and steadily shooting at "everything blue" to "keep up the scare." Seeing the difficulty of his movement, because of the natural barriers of gorges, precipitous mountain sides and broken paths, the Confederate chief ordered a portion of his command to advance in "a general direction parallel with the route upon which Streight was moving," to prevent his escape by way of the cross-roads, while he himself led the remaining troops in pursuit of