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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Albert Brant And His Experiences During The Civil War

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 12 August 2004
Source:
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

ALBERT BRANT was born in Warren County, Ohio, Feb. 12, 1842; son of Abraham and Hester Jeffries Brant, the former of New Jersey, and the latter a native of Warren County. The father immigrated to Ohio with his parents in 1814.
Albert Brant enlisted in Co. A, 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, Sept. 10, 1861, and served under Gen. O.C. Mitchell as a scout or courier. During the campaign from Bowling Green, Ky., to Huntsville, Ala., he was with his command in every engagement of that department, except Stone River (being a prisoner at that time) until after the battle of Chickamauga; he served as a scout during the celebrated Wheeler raid.
In November, preceding the battle of Missionary Ridge, he was sent for by Gen. Crook, who asked him if he could carry a message to Gen. Sherman, who was at that time making his way up the Tennessee River; Mr. Brant replied that "he could, if any man could." Gen. Crook said "he could take one, or five or a hundred men, just as he chose," so as to deliver it to Gen. Sherman safely and quickly, as it was of great importance; he chose one man and proceeded down the Tennessee River; he found the river guarded at every point, and being pursued from behind, he abandoned his horse just in time to escape capture.
Pressing forward as rapidly as possible, after three days they reached the Elk River, having endured many hardships and dangers. Between Huntsville and Decatur, they were fired on by a company of cavalry, when they took to a swampy woods for protection; but here they were pursued by a blood-hound; the dog came near them at one time but hearing his master's halloo, left the trail. Brant had concealed the message until the cavalry abandoned the pursuit, representing himself as a confederate soldier,
Brant secured from a planter the loan of a horse and a mule which the scouts rode to Athens; when near the latter place they were startled by a sharp "Halt, who comes there?" Mr. Brant answered the challenge by the rebel picket who demanded the counter-sign. Mr. Brant replied that he did not have it, but that he would speak to the commander; the sentry passed them and they proceeded right onward through the camp; there were probably forty or fifty men in the camp together with several teams. They, however, gave the two scouts no further trouble.
The scouts passed Athens at night. The town was full of confederate soldiers, but they kept as far from them as possible and met no serious obstacles; when accosted, they represented themselves as confederates; the Rebels were not expecting to see a Yankee in that part of the country. They came in sight of the Elk River the third day and found there a small band of so-called State troops; they succeeded in securing themselves in a ditch all day to escape detection and capture; finally they succeeded in securing a canoe in which they headed down stream. They reached the Tennessee River at daylight, after a tedious and dangerous ride of twenty-four miles, and discovered two large rebel camps on either side of the river; knowing that they could not run past them with safety, they pulled their canoe upon one of several islands and spent the day in full view of the rebel camps; so near, that they could hear all that was said, and see all that was done.
After dark they started on one of the most perilous voyages ever undertaken. The Elk River empties into the Tennessee at the mouth of the famous "Muscle Shoals." These shoals consist of fifteen miles of tumultuous rapids, rushing with terrible force through a narrow and rocky channel. Sometimes the canoe would strike the rocks and almost sink. The men kept to the center of the stream, to keep as secure as possible from the rebel pickets, which lined each side of the river. This was the fourth night from the army, and the heroic scouts were almost dead from hunger, exposure and loss of sleep, not having slept since the departure from the Elk River, and having had nothing to eat except corn bread and raw bacon, procured from the Negroes in scant supply.
Taking the last meal at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, before starting down the Elk River, they walked all that night, and lay concealed all the next day on an island making thirty-nine hours without a bite to eat. The men landed once in going down the Tennessee, but found nothing but a deserted plantation. Finally, they found a plantation where they got some corn bread, and what was more to their liking, news from Sherman's advance guard. An old darkey told them that the Yankees had come near capturing his young master that evening, together with his whose company, at Florence, Alabama, and that his master was in the house at the time, while the company was encamped a short distance up the road. Mr. Brant took the old Negro into his confidence, and told him his name and business and asked him the distance to Florence; he was told that it was twelve miles distant, that the river was closely guarded at every point, and that the camp referred to was on the road to Florence, where they arrived at 9 o'clock, and made their way into the Union camp without being seen by pickets.
Making their way to headquarters, they were introduced to Gen. Hugh Ewing. When told by Mr. Brant that he was a courier from Chattanooga, and the bearer of important messages, Gen. Ewing was incredulous, but was finally convinced of the truth of the story. Gen. Ewing received the scouts very kindly, and relieved their necessities, which were pressing, as the men had not had a meal for four days. Mr. Brant was sent to Gen. Sherman by Gen. Ewing with a strong guard and a personal letter to Gen. Sherman. They reached Gen. Sherman's quarters at evening, having ridden thirty-five miles since noon, and were kindly received by the General. Mr. Brant had been instructed by Gen. Crook not to have the message captured at all hazards, and if after destroying the message he should reach Gen. Sherman, he should tell him to drop everything east of Bear River, and make all possible to Chattanooga. Gen. Sherman gave Mr. Brant letters to return to Gen. Crook, which he delivered after fully as many perils and difficulties as he had experienced in going down, none of which, however, we can give, suffice it to say, that he got back to Gen. Crook's headquarters and delivered the messages safely, in due time. This was one of the most perilous and important trips connected with the great war, the distance 170 miles, lying in the enemy's country, and 135 miles without seeing a friend; at the same time, Sherman was pushing the rebel army before him, and Mr. Brant had to pass directly through the rebel army. In addition to this, the country was full of paroled prisoners from Vicksburg, and these were treacherous and dangerous men to meet. He was discharged from the service November 22, 1864.
Albert Brant married Sarah E. Trovillo, a native of Warren County, on the 16th of March, 1865.


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This page created 12 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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