Abel Streight

Abel Streight

Abel D. Streight (June 17, 1828 – May 27, 1892) was a lumber merchant, publisher, and a Union Army General in the American Civil War, noted for his daring cavalry raid, Streight's Raid, in 1863. After the war, he served as a State Senator in Indiana for two terms.

Early life and Civil War

Streight (pronEng|ˈstreɪt) was born in Wheeler, New York. He moved to Cincinnati, and then, by 1859, to Indianapolis, where he was a publisher of books and maps.

After the start of the Civil War, he was appointed Colonel of the 51st Indiana Infantry regiment on December 12, 1861. This regiment was attached to the Union Army of the Cumberland.

During the first two years of the war, Streight and his regiment saw very limited action, which is said to have disappointed him greatly.

In 1863, he proposed a plan to Brigadier General James A. Garfield (chief of staff of the Army of the Cumberland) that he be allowed to raise a force to make an incursion into the South on a raiding mission. Streight's intended target was the disruption of the Western & Atlantic Railroad from Chattanooga to Atlanta, which was supplying the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Army commander William S. Rosecrans gave his permission to do so.

Union forces from Streight's own 51st Indiana, the 73rd Indiana Infantry, the 80th Illinois Infantry, and 3rd Ohio Infantry regiments were placed under Streight's command. This force encompassed approximately 1,700 troops. The original intent was to have this force mounted suitably for fast travel and attacks; however, due largely to wartime shortages, Streight's brigade were equipped with mules. This obvious disadvantage, combined with Streight's own inexperience, was to prove disastrous.

Steight led this force to Nashville, departed Tuscumbia, Alabama, on April 26, 1863, and then to Eastport, Mississippi. From there, he decided to push to the southeast, initially screened by another Union force commanded by Brig. Gen. Grenville Dodge. On April 30, Streight's brigade arrived at Sand Mountain, where he was intercepted by a Confederate force under Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and harassed for several days. Eventually, Streight's force was routed at the Battle of Day's Gap and Streight himself was captured and taken to Libby Prison as a prisoner of war.

After ten months of incarceration, Streight and 107 other soldiers escaped from prison by tunnelling from their barracks to freedom. Eventually, Streight was able to cross through enemy territory and, on his return, gave a debriefing report to his Union commanders.

Postbellum career

Streight resigned his command and left the army in March 1865, having achieved the rank of brevet brigadier general. In 1866, he and his wife built a house on Washington Street in Indianapolis. In 1876, Streight ran successfully for a seat in the Indiana Senate, serving a two year term. In 1880, he ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for governor of Indiana. In 1888, he was once again elected as State Senator. He died in Indianapolis four years later, in 1892. He is buried there in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Streight was the author of "The Crisis of Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-one in the Government of the United States", published in 1861.

Streight's wife, Lovina ("née" McCarthy), joined her husband on his southern campaign, often ministering help to wounded men during the battle. She was captured three times and exchanged for prisoners. Lovina Streight was known as the "Mother of the 51st", and upon her death in 1910, her funeral was afforded full military honors.

ee also

*List of Amerian Civil War generals


*Eicher, John H., & Eicher, David J., "Civil War High Commands", Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
*Eicher, David J., "The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War", Simon & Schuster, 2001, ISBN 0-684-84944-5.

External links

* [http://members.aol.com/rlwillett/civilwarbooks003.htm Review of book about Streight]

NAME= Streight, Abel
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Union Army general

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