Abel Streight (1828/9 - 1892)
Abel Streight (1828/9 - 1892) was a General officer of the Army of the Union, during the American Civil War, and a Republican Senator from Indiana for two terms.
Born in Steuben Co. New York, he moved to Cincinnati, and then by 1859 to Indianapolis where he was a publisher of books and maps.
At the start of hostilities he enlisted in the army and was commisioned as a Colonel, in the 51st. Indiana Infantry. 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 disapointed him greatly.
In 1863, he proposed a plan to Brig. General James A. Garfield 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 Chattanooga to Atlanta railroad, "The Western & Atlantic Railroad", which was supplying the CSA's Army of Tennessee. Garfield gave his permission to do so.
Union forces from Streight's own 51st. Indiana Infantry, the 73rd. Indiana, the 80th. Illinois and 3rd. Ohio 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 war time shortages, Streight's brigade were equipped with mules. This obvious disadvantage, combined with Streight's own inexperience was to prove disasterous.
Steight led this force to Nashville and then to Eastport, Mississippi. From there he decided to push to the southeast, initially screened by another Union force commanded by Gen. Grenville Dodge. On April 30, 1863, Streight's brigade arrived at Sand Mountain, where he was intercepted by a Confederate force under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and harrassed 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.
Streight retired his command and left the army in 1865. In 1866, he and his wife built a house on Washington Street in Indianapolis. In 1876, Streight ran succesfully for a seat in the Indiana state senate, serving a two year term. In 1880 he ran unsuccesfully as the Republican candidate for governor of Indiana, but in 1888 was once again elected as State Senator. He died in Indianapolis four years later, in 1892.
Streight's wife Lovina (ne' McCarthy) had joined her husband on his southern campaign, often ministering help to wounded men during the battle. She had been 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.