On a balmy day in April 1863, Union Colonel Abel D. Streight, at the head of a brigade of federal infantry, set out on a 220-mile ride to destroy the Western and Atlantic railroad at Rome, Georgia. The most fascinating thing about the raid is that Streight’s brigade of four infantry regiments, almost 1,800 soldiers, was mounted on mules, a huge problem in itself; few of his men had ever ridden a horse, let alone a mule. But not only did Streight have almost 1,600 stubborn and wily animals to contend with, he soon found himself being relentlessly pursued by the inimitable Confederate cavalry commander, General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The raid soon turned into a running battle between Streight’s raiders and Forrest’s cavalry. For Streight, it was a long and tortuous journey across Northern Alabama. For Forrest, it was one defeat after another at the hands of the very “able” Abel Streight, even though he, Forrest, had the advantage of home territory and the sympathy and aid of the local populace.
There are some wildly hilarious moments involving the mules and their new masters; or is it the other way around? There’s plenty of action and suspense and an unforgettable cast of characters, real and fictional, animal and human; some you will come to love, some…not so much.
They say that truth is stranger than fiction. This amazing story proves the point, for the end of the story is…well, unbelievable.
The Mule Soldiers is the true story – fictionalized – of Colonel Abel Streight’s raid into Northern Alabama that took place from April 19th to May 3rd of 1863. It is an enthralling and bittersweet story that will stay with you long after you have you have finished listening to it.