The following is the story of her exploit, as related by Gen. Forrest to a party of his friends at Chattanooga:
Our readers have doubtless seen one or two short versions of the romantic part played by the above named indomitable girl, in the great raid of Gen. Forrest from Murfreesboro’, Tenn., to Rome, Ga., in pursuit of Streight’s cavalry; but never the story as related by the General himself. The romantic and heroic conduct of Miss Sansom will long live in the memory of the survivors of this war; and we are pleased in this connection to add, by late action of the Legislature of our State, she has been granted a valuable donation of land, as a token of appreciation for the undaunted bravery and fearless patriotism she evinced on the occasion referred to. The editor of the Southern Confederacy remembers the story, as related by Gen. Forrest, shortly after the capture of Streight and his command and says:
He had been pursuing the enemy all day, and was close upon their heels, when the pursuit was effectually checked by the destruction, by the enemy, of a bridge over a deep creek, which, for the time, separated pursuer and pursued. The country was exceedingly wild and rugged, and the banks of the creek too steep for passage on horseback. Gen. Forrest rode up to a modest little farm-house on the road-side, and seeing a young maiden standing upon the little stoop in front of the dwelling, he accosted her, and inquired if there was any ford or passage for his men across the creek, above or below the destroyed bridge. The young girl proceeded to direct him with animated gesture, and cheeks flushed with excitement, and almost breathless in her eagerness to aid the noble cause of the gallant Confederate General.
It was a scene for a painter–the Southern girl, her cheeks glowing, and her bright eyes flashing; while her mother, attracted by the colloquy, stood holding the door, and gazing upon the cavalcade over her venerable spectacles, the cavalry chieftain resting his legs carelessly over the saddle pommel, his staff drawn up around him, and his weather-worn veterans scattered in groups around the road, and some of them actually nodding in their saddles from excessive fatigue. After some further inquiry, Gen. Forrest asked the young lade if she would not mount behind him, and show him the way to the ford. She hesitated, and turned her mother an inquiring look. The mother, with a delicacy becoming a prudent parent, rather seemed to object to her going with the soldiers. “Mother,” she said, “I am not afraid to trust myself with as brave a man as Gen. Forrest.”
“But, my dear, folks will talk about you.” “Let them talk,” responded the heroic girl; “I must go.” And with that she lightly sprang upon the roots of a fallen tree. Forrest drew his mettled charger near her; she grasped the hero fearlessly about the waist, and sprang up behind him; and away they went–over brake and bramble, through the glade, and on towards the ford. The route was a difficult one, even for as experienced a rider as Forrest; but his fair young companion and guide held her seat, like an experienced horse-woman, and without the slightest evidence of fear. At length they drew near to the ford. Upon the high ridge above, the quick eye of Forrest descried the Yankee sharpshooters, dodging from tree to tree; and pretty soon an angry minie whistled by his ear.
“What was that, Gen. Forrest?” asked the maiden.
“Bullets,” he replied, “are you afraid?” She replied in the negative, and they proceeded on. At length it became necessary, from the density of the undergrowth and snags, to dismount; and Forrest hitched his horse, and the girl preceded him, leading the way herself–remarking that the Yankees would not fire upon her; and they might fire, if he went first. To this Forrest objected, not wishing to screen himself behind the brave girl; and taking the lead himself, the two proceeded on to the ford, under the fire of the Yankee rear-guard. Having discovered the route, he returned, brought up his axe-men, and cleared out a road, and safely crossed his whole column.
Upon taking leave of his fair young guide, the General asked if there was anything he might do for her, in return for her invaluable services. She told him that the Yankees on ahead had her brother prisoner, and if Gen. Forrest would only release him, she should be more than repaid. The General took out his watch, and examined it. It was just five minutes to eleven. “Tomorrow,” he said, “at five minutes to eleven o’clock, your brother shall be returned to you.” And so the sequel proved. Streight, with his whole command, was captured at ten the next morning. Young Sansom was released, and despatched on the fleetest horse in the command, to return to his heroic sister, whose courage and presence of mind had contributed so much to the success of one of the most remarkable cavalry pursuits and captures known in the world’s history.
Originally posted 2008-11-03 04:56:49.