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[284] the skirmishers by sending out others, without further molestation.

It was now getting dark, and we were within seven miles of Decatur, when we concluded to bivouac for the night. Strong pickets were thrown out in every approachable direction. The boys were allowed to sleep till three o'clock the next morning, when they were awakened, and as soon as it was daylight, we were on our way. We arrived at Decatur at half-past 6 o'clock A. M., bringing back every member of my regiment that went with us.

I wish to say a word relative to the condition of these people. They are mostly poor, though many of them are, or rather have been, in good circumstances. They outnumber nearly three to one the secessionists in portions of Morgan, Blount, Winston, Marion, Walker, Fayette and Jefferson counties; but situated as they are, surrounded by a most relentless foe, mostly unarmed and destitute of ammunition, they are persecuted in every conceivable way, yet up to this time most of them have kept out of the way sufficiently to avoid being dragged off by the gangs that infest the country for the purpose of plunder and enforcing the provisions of the rebel conscription act, but their horses and cattle are driven off in vast numbers. Every public road is patrolled by guerrilla bands, and the Union men have been compelled to seek protection in the fastness of the mountainous wilderness. They cannot hold out much longer. This state of things has so disturbed them, that but very little attention has been paid to farming; consequently many of them are now destitute of food of their own, and are living off their more fortunate neighbors.

Such examples of patriotism as these people have set are worthy of being followed. One old lady, Mrs. Anna Campbell, volunteered to ride thirty-five miles, and return, making seventy miles, with about thirty recruits, inside of thirty-six hours. When it is taken into consideration that.these people were all hid away to avoid being taken by the rebels, and that the country is but sparsely settled, this case is without a parallel in American history. There are many cases of a similar nature that came under my observation, but I do not desire to weary your patience with them. Suffice it to say, that I have never witnessed such an outpouring of devoted and determined patriotism among any other people; and I am now of the opinion that, if there could be a sufficient, force in that portion of the country to protect these people, there could be at least two full regiments raised of as good and true men as ever defended the American flag. So confident am I that my views are correct, that if the Commanding General will grant me permission to do so, I will take my regiment, (the boys all want to go,) and two weeks rations of bread, salt, sugar and coffee, (meat we can get there,) and five hundred extra stand of arms, with a sufficient supply of ammunition, and locate at least thirty miles south of Decatur, where I will rally around me a sufficient number of the brave mountaineers to protect the country effectually against anything except the regular rebel army, who, by the way, would find it a difficult country to operate in. Never did people stand in greater need of protection. They have battled manfully against the most unscrupulous foe that civilized warfare has ever witnessed. They have been shut out from all communication with any thing but their enemies for a year and a half, and yet they stand firm and true. If such merit is not to be rewarded, if such citizens are not to receive protection, then is their case a deplorable one indeed.

I am, sir, your most obedient servant,

A. D. Streight, Colonel Fifty-first Regiment Indiana Volunteers. To Capt. Wm. A. Schlater, A. A.G.

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