This band of eleven moved with extreme care and cunning through the hills and countryside of Alabama, past several Confederate Cavalry detachments into Tennessee. Even though the major cities were occupied by Union troops there were still bands of southern citizens and Confederate forces anxious to attack any Union soldier. The cargo they were to pick up were two metal strong boxes, each consisting of a leather pouch filled with gold coins. The pouches were added to ensure quick removal from the boxes if the detachment encountered the enemy on the way back to Huntsville.
A pack mule was used to haul the strong boxes and under the cover of night the men of the 4th left Nashville and headed back to Huntsville. Traveling a short distance the detachment neared the small village of Belleview. It was here that Confederate Cavalry was sighted. The group took a wide route around the unit trying to avoid detection. This path only led to another group of rebel cavalry who on recognizing them as Union forces fired at the eleven and pursued the men of the 4th.
Aware they couldn’t let their precious cargo fall into rebel hands the unit rode long and hard for about two miles. The ranking officer, a Lieutenant, ordered four men to remain and hold off the Confederates allowing the rest of the 4th to get a substantial lead back to Huntsville. It wasn’t long before those four men of the 4th were fired upon by the oncoming Confederates. Two men from the 4th were killed immediately, the other two trying to hold off the rebs mounted their horses and fled. One of those two men was shot as well.
The rest of the men of the 4th, with gold in tow, traveled several more miles heading southwest. They saw a group of men without uniforms or flags in the distance. They guessed these men to be rebel guerillas and steered their unit away from them. Yet further down the road the 4th met up with two men, probably scouts from the guerrilla group. Shots were fired and one of the rebel riders, fell injured to the ground. The other scout, Jeremiah McCain rode off. As the 4th crossed the state line into Alabama, McCain rode fast to the rebel band the men of the 4th had avoided.
McCain, lacking any ambition in life, did not join the Confederate army. In his fifties, he was a renegade, a bushwhacker and happy to kill Yankees. Riding hard to cover the distance, McCain alerted his comrades of the small Union detachment and told them about the pack mule. The mule indicated one thing, payroll. That was all the incentive the renegades needed and were in eager pursuit of the remaining men of the 4th OVC.
Expecting the surviving guerrilla gunman to alert the others, the Union detachment knew they needed to ride hard and fast. Surmising the pack mule had “given them away”, they went east until they came to the Flint River. They followed the river south hoping to get to a Union outpost before being overtaken by the rebel guerillas they had avoided in Tennessee.
What this small band of 4th Ohio Cavalry men did not know was that they were riding into yet another rebel guerrilla hide out. The few men of the 4th were spotted by two rebel riders on a bluff above them. One followed the men on his horse at a distance, with his eye on the pack mule, while the other rode off to warn the rest of the renegades.
Be sure to stop back here tomorrow for the finale of The Other Side to the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry in the Civil War – One of Secrets, Intrigue and Gold! Find out what happened to the small group of men from the 4th. Did they come face to face with the renegades? What about the gold? Find out tomorrow!