In the spring of 1863, Union colonel Abel Streight set out from Nashville, under orders from General William S. Rosecrans to target railroads and other Confederate supply lines. With him went a brigade of about 1,300 soldiers opposed, while their opponents numbered only 500. But that 500 was commanded by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who by then had gathered a solid reputation as a tenacious fighter.
Day’s Gap in Alabama was the first and largest battle of this minor campaign. Forrest’s cavalrymen rattled Streight’s rear guard in a surprise attack, but the Northerner’s rallied to the rear’s defense and drove the rebels off. Unfortunately, the battle sparked a series of small skirmishes that drove them deeper into hostile territory. Worn down by Forrest’s constant harassment, unfriendly locals, and his own poor planning, Streight decided to surrender on the 3rd of May, and was taken into custody. He and his men remained in Richmond’s Libby Prison for 10 months, until making a daring escape and returning to the Army of the Cumberland.
Though it ended poorly for Streight, the raid was not a total failure. His campaigned simultaneously with the larger and more successful Grierson’s Raid through Louisiana, and both raids provided a useful distraction for General Ulysses S. Grant as he began his march on Vicksburg, Mississippi.