Thursday, May 7, 2009

Forrest at Rome

The veterans plaza in Myrtle Hill Cemetery also has a nice monument for Nathan Bedford Forrest. In late April 1863 Abel Streight led a raid into northern Alabama with the goal of cutting the railroad between Chattanooga and Atlanta. Instead Streight mainly tried to escape with his life. Forrest was outnumbered roughly 425 to 1600 but he constantly harassed Streight, losing most of the fights but taking the initiative from Streight. Finally on May 3rd Forrest forced Streight to surrender near Rome. The people were very happy that Forrest had saved their town from destruction, although by that point Streight probably was in no position to waste time burning supplies in town, so they erected this monument to him.

About 30 feet from the Forrest monument is this marker detailing the exploits of John H. Wisdom. He lived in Gadsden, AL at the time of the raid. He set off on horseback to alert the towns ahead (the largest being Rome) of Streight's approach. Wisdom did not know that Forrest was close on Streight's rear but he wanted to alert the militia so they could make a defense. He did alert the militia in Rome on May 3rd. Since Streight surrendered that day there was no need to continue riding ahead of the Union raiders.
The other famous incident of the raid is when 15 year old Emma Sansom led Forrest to a ford so that he could continue his pursuit of Streight. Streight burned the bridge over Black Creek near Gadsden, hoping to delay Forrest a few hours. When Forrest arrived he asked at the nearby Sansom house if there was another bridge nearby, Streight had used smoldering coal from the Sansom house to ignite the bridge. Emma told Forrest the nearest bridge was 2 miles away in Gadsden. She then told Forrest she could take him to a spot that cows used to cross the creek. She wanted to saddle her horse but Forrest didn't want to wait and said she could ride on his horse. Emma pointed out the ford and allowed Forrest to continue the pursuit. When Forrest dropped Emma back at home he also gave her the following note:

Hed Quarters in Sadle
May 2,1863
My highest regardes to Miss Emma Sansom for her gallant conduct while my posse was skirmishing with the Federals across Black Creek near Gadsden Alabama.
N.B. Forrest
Brig. GenI. Comding N. Ala.—

There is a monument to Emma in Gadsden but I've never been there, otherwise I'd have a picture here to share.

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