Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mrs. A. D. Streight.

The following story was taken from the 51st, infantry regimental history.

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During the pursuit of Bragg, Mrs. Streight went to Nashville, accompanied by their son John, then a small child, and stopped at the Sewanee House. She desired to go from there by railroad to Bowling Green ; but as communication by that route was cut off, it was decided to go by stage-coach. Accordingly, Sunday evening, September 7, about 7 o'clock, the lumbering old-fashioned stage-coach drew up at the hotel door, and with Mrs. Streight, Mrs. Grigsby, wife of the colonel of the 24th Kentucky, Colonel Shoemaker, of the 13th Michigan, with seventeen other men and a lady with her two boys, the conveyance was pretty well filled . They proceeded as far as Tyree Springs, a summer retreat on the top of the mountain, which they reached about midnight. When near the summit, they were surrounded by 250 of Morgan's guerrillas, who fired upon them. "Don't fire," cried the driver; 'U'here are ladies in there!" They were taken to the Springs hotel, placed under guard, the ladies occupying the sitting-room. When they found they were captured, and had to get out,the men quickly gave their revolvers to Mrs. Streight, and she secreted them about her person. They also gave her important dispatches, which she hid among some clothing in her traveling-basket. Just then a burly ruffian put his pistol under her nose in the stage. She slapped it back, saying, "Keep your revolver out of ray face, sir!" He begged pardon, and disappeared.

As the ladies and children entered the sitting-roora, Mrs. Streight closed the door, and stepped across to a little stand, opening the drawer, and thrusting the dispatches into it ; then closed it . After the guerrillas finished searching the men, they returned to the hotel, and called the ladies out, to claim their trunks . They found them in an old two- wheeled cart, Colonel Shoemaker was sitting on that of Mrs. Streight, on which a card was tacked, bearing the inscription "Mrs. Col. A. D. Streight." While pretending to grope in the uncertain light, for her trunk, she put her hand back and tore off the card. Then she proved her ownership, by fitting her key in the lock. The baggage was taken into the hotel and searched, but nothing contraband was found.

Soon the men all went out, but some returned and peeped in. Among them was a doctor, by the name of Joiner, a black-eyed villain, who announced that he, being a doctor, was sent to examine the ladies. He began by, ''Ladies, I command you to undress. I was sent here to examine your persons." ''By what authority?" demanded Mrs. Streight. "By Major Scott and Captain Kirkpatrick !" Stamping his foot, he continued, "I want you to take off your clothes!" "I won't do it!" declared Mrs. Streight, emphatically.   While he stood stamping his foot, and making demonstrations, one of the strange lady's boys ran to Maj. Scott, and asked if it was possible that he w^as going to let that doctor compel those ladies to undress. The major replied, ' ' By no means ! ' ' and threatened to shoot Joiner if he molested them. When the lad returned, the doctor stood in the doorway, and as the officer's words were repeated, Mrs. Streight stepped suddenly up to the insulting, rebel, and putting her hand against his breast, sent him over on his back on the porch, two stej)s below; while his heels flew into the air like the wings of a windmill. She slammed the door to, then ; and the fellows outside, who witnessed the villain's discomfiture, yelled with delight, and shouted at him, "The little Yankee was too much for you !"

The men were then all called away, and a single sentinel put on duty ; and the ladies were told to retire . Two or three times during the night, cakes and fruit were sent in to the ladies ; but as they bore evidence of poison, they were received with thanks, and quietly put into the fire.

About 5 o'clock in the morning, the guard was taken off. Mrs. Streight, who had not slept during the night, took advantage of this to reconnoiter. Quietly unlocking the door, she went out, locking the door after her, and strolled down the verandah, in search of a chance to get away. The windows were open, and in one room were a number of men in blue uniforms, who she supposed were Union soldiers. She told them what she wanted, claimed them as friends, and offered to pay them well ; but they all refused. Turning back, she saw the stage across the way, with the driver asleep on top ; and her mind was made up. She went over, awoke him, and requested him to hitch up. He refused, saying the horses had all been taken. At the  same moment she heard the horses stamping in the barn.  Having been reared on a farm , and being quite familiar with horses, she found the harness where it had been hidden in a corn-bin, adjusted it to the horses, and led them to the door. She again aroused the driver, and jerking out one of the half-dozen revolvers with which she was burdened, made him get down, hitch those horses to the coach , rein up and straighten them out ; assuring him that if he uttered a single note of alarm, she would blow a hole clear through his head. Then she hustled the women and children and trunks aboard, and in twenty minutes they were off, on a dead run. Two miles out, they were halted by a guerrilla, who gave a signal. "Now, let those horses go," cried Mrs. Streight, "or I'll get up there and drive."

The old coach flew as it never had before. All along the route they passed guerrillas, but they sped by so suddenly, that they were gone before they could be stopped. .Several miles were rapidly covered ; when, fearing that the horses might give out before the end of the journey, they were slacked up. At 12 o'clock, they rolled into Franklin, Ky., and dashed up to the principal hotel ; the horsey in a lather of foam and sweat. Mrs. Streight recognized in the landlord one of the guerrillas she met the night before. He slunk away, and the bar-tender assisted the ladies out. Dinner was ready ; and as they were nearly starved, they all went in. Mrs. Streight bribed a colored waiter to serve their dinner, and to see that it was not poisoned ; and they stayed there till next morning. By that time the railroad was again open , and. the party went on to Bowling Green; arriving there in the afternoon, a few honrs after the FiftyFirst went into camp. Mrs. Streight frequently visited the regiment, and was very kind to the sick boys ; and made herself very useful in many ways. She was loved by all the boys, and was revered by all as the ''mother of the regiment."

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