Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 38.djvu/370
Southern Historical Society Papers.
over the occurrence when General Forrest, a little after the "Yankees" had taken their departure, rode up to the gate. He found an eager little Confederate volunteer.
"They have burned the bridge They have burned the bridge!" she cried, "but I know the way through the lost ford. No one else can show you. No one else knows!"
"It will take me three hours to reach the bridge above this ruined one," Forrest said, meditatively. "I cannot lose three hours. Come, show me the way."
Streight's rear guard was still posted across the river, and cannon balls and rifle shots were flying through the air.
"There is great danger to you. Maybe you had better go back," the General said to the young girl, whom he had taken up behind him on his horse in his haste to discover the crossing.
"I am not afraid," she declared, stoutly.
"Are you sure about the ford?" Forrest asked, anxiously.
"I have seen our cows pick their way over in low water. I am sure!"
As they neared the place which she indicated they dismounted and crept through the underbrush towards the ford. When they came into view of the raider sharpshooters across the river their lives were in grave peril; but the girl's courage was of the quality of the fearless Confederate leader, and she stood her ground. On they went to the very spot where a reasonably safe footing was to be secured for the daring riders in gray, winding their way down the mountain road. When his young guide had pointed out to him the zigzag course across the swift stream she returned to the little home, which from that hour sprang into existence as among the historic sites in American history, the home of Emma Sansom, the Confederate heroine of Alabama.
When Streight, who had halted in the town of Gadsden, four miles distant, to destroy some commissary stores there, discovered that Forrest was again after him, he felt that indeed he was a veritable wizard, and one, too, that was in covenant with hell and leagued with the devil.Again the raiders went forward with determination and all possible speed towards their objective, encouraged by the hope of burning the bridge at Rome after they had passed over.