Battle of Day's Gap

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The Battle of Day's Gap was a Civil War battle fought on April 30, 1863 at Day's Gap through Sand Mountain in Cullman County. It was the first of a series of skirmishes between Union forces commanded by Colonel Abel Streight and Confederate's following Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Forrest's mission was to hamper Streight's Raid through Northern Alabama toward Rome, Georgia. The raiders, a provisional unit made up of men from the 51st and 73rd Indiana, 3rd Ohio, and 80th Illinois Infantries and the 1st Middle Tennessee Cavalry, were planning to disable the Western & Atlantic Railroad, which was supplying General Braxton Bragg's army in Middle Tennessee. Streight's forces arrived from Nashville via Eastport, Mississippi and marched out of Tuscumbia on April 26 with troops under the command of Brigadier General Grenville Dodge engaged in screening maneuvers.

Streight's men bivouacked at Day's Gap on the evening of April 29. Streight wrote in his account of the campaign that many of the soldiers of the 1st Alabama Cavalry (US) under his command had been recruited from the vicinity and that they had an opportunity to greet friends and relatives that evening. The next morning they resumed marching eastward, close to the ridge of Sand Mountain.

Forrest's men, the combined Corps of the 4th and 53rd Alabama Cavalries, along with units from Mississippi and East Louisiana, engaged Streight's forces as their camp was still being cleared by the rear guard. That initial attack was repulsed and the Union forces up ahead dismounted and entrenched themselves on the rocky ridge, in a location providing good cover, and where their flanks were protected by a deep ravine and a marsh. The mules were driven down into the ravine for protection. The battle commenced at about 6:00 AM and lasted for five hours. There were an estimated 65 Confederate and 23 Union casualties from the fighting. Two cannon, captured by Forrest at Murphreesboro, were also lost.

Rather than engaging the outnumbered Confederates in pitched battle, Streight ordered his men to march onward toward Blountsville. Finding the rocky ground unsuited for burials, the Confederates rolled their dead into the nearby ravine before regrouping to continue their pursuit.

Further skirmishes occurred at Crooked Creek and Hog Mountain on April 30, at Blountsville on May 1, at Black Creek near Gadsden and at Blount's Plantation on May 2. Forrest eventually succeeded in surrounding Streight's forces three miles east of Cedar Bluff on May 3, forcing their surrender. The raiders were captured and taken to Libby Prison in Richmond, from where Streight later managed to escape.