Alabama Man Interprets Forrest-Streight Trail
In Cullman County
By Ed Ballam December '01 issue
CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. - Dan Fulenwider, a native
of Cullman County, is putting the finishing touches on a driving
tour brochure for the route traveled by the April 1863 running
battle across Alabama as Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest
pursued Union Col. Abel Streight and Streight's brigade of saddle-sore
soldiers on mules.
The publication of the brochure will be the culmination of 11
years of work for Fulenwider, who has ancestors who fought on
both side in the Civil War.
"There is so much history here," Fulenwider said.
"Forrest and Streight were using the same trails the Indians
used." The trails were also used by Davy Crockett as well
as Gen. John Coffee along with some 890 Tennessee volunteers
during the Creek Indian War. The marking and preservation of
the trail protects three historic time frames.
"I've had some good luck finding documents" for tracing
some of the trail, he said, including an 1817 survey of the
Fulenwider is producing the brochure for the Cullman County
Commission and the Cullman County Chamber of Commerce. The commission
recently spent about $1,400 to create interpretive signs that
mark the places of major battles and troop movement along the
county's 34 miles of the trail.
The significant battles of the pursuit occurred at Day's Gap
in Battleground, Ala., and Hog Mountain, as well as two ambushes
at Grandview and Ryan's Creek, according to Fulenwider.
The fighting earned Forrest the name "Wizard of the Saddle"
because three horses were shot out from under him.
The running battle was also unique in that the Crooked Creek
skirmish between Forrest and Streight was fought between approximately
5 p.m. and 10 p.m., making it the only battle to continue after
Fulenwider has walked the length of the trail through the state
from where Streight and his men crossed into Alabama from Mississippi
in the west to east run across the northern third of the state
to Rome, Ga.
As a native of the area, Fulenwider has long been interested
in history on a personal level. He grew up listening to stories
his grandmother told about her grandfather who was in the war.
His interests then developed into an appreciation for local
history and he began writing columns for local newspapers and
zeroed in on Streight's Raid as an area of particular interest.
Fulenwider is a charter member of Kentucky's Thomas Jefferson
Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and, as such, he began showing
and telling other Civil War enthusiasts about the battle between
Streight and Forrest.
Some 11 years ago, he started informal excursions along portions
of the trail. Military people from all over the world have visited
to do first-hand warfare analysis as he tells him about troop
movement and points out key areas along the trail.
Because the informal tours he was giving were so popular, Fulenwider
said he was convinced that tourists would enjoy the trail as
He hopes some day to have the entire length of the trail marked
and interpreted with signs and brochures. He has been in contact
with officials in Lawrence, Morgan and Blount counties regarding
marking and interpreting the trail in their areas.
Overall, the trail used by Forrest and Streight is about 225
miles long. Fulenwider has walked and studied the entire length
and written about the history of the area in the book Civil
War Stories of North Alabama and the South.
He also has served as the narrator of the annual Forrest/Streight
Day sponsored by the Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp in Blountsville
on the first weekend in May to coincide with the fighting that
occurred through April into early May.
"This trail is important to the history of the area,"
Fulenwider said. "That's why I've worked on it as I have."