Excerpt from Grierson's Cavalry Raid
By S. A. Forbes. Formerly Captain, Company B, Seventh Illinois Cavalry.
The Grierson raid, made in April, 1863, from Lagrange, in western Tennessee, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the first of the great fed eral cavalry raids of t... he Civil War, and one of the most brilliantly successful. It was a rapid ride of some six hundred miles* through the heart of the enemy's country, made by a mounted force of less than a thousand men,f belonging to two Illinois regiments, the Sixth and Seventh Cavalry, commanded by B. H. Grierson, colonel of the Sixth. It had for its principal object the destruction of the railways in the rear of Vicksburg, the sole remaining means of transportation of supplies and men to that Confederate stronghold at a time when both supplies and men were desperately needed.
The force which made the ride to Baton Rouge consisted wholly of Illinois men, under an Illinois leader, although the Second Iowa Cav airy, belonging to the same brigade, accompanied the column for the first four days, and was then sent back to the starting point as a foil to the pursuit. \vhen I add that the commander of the district under whose direction the expedition was planned and by whose orders it was set on foot, was Major - General S. A. Hurlbut, also an Illinoisan. A citizen of Belvidere, and that his immediate superior, by whose final authority the raid was made, was General U. S. Grant of Illinois, I doubt not that it will be conceded that the history of this Mississippi campaign may properly enough be called a legitimate part of the history of this State.
It was my good fortune to make this ride, a youth of 18 at the time, first sergeant of a company of the Seventh Illinois. Of which my brother, H. C. Forbes, was captain. It was my first experience in a free field after seven months' absence from my regiment, four of them in a southern prison and three in a northern hospital following there upon. It naturally made a vivid impression at the time, one which has by no means wholly faded yet, and I am sure the reader will pardon me if, in the course of this paper, I sometimes fail to keep the even pace of the calm historian or to muster the items of this narrative in perfectly correct perspective.
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