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Railroad Destruction

Method of destroying railroads: The ties were lighted and rails heated until, from their weight, they bent out of shape. (Picture Source: Carlisle Military Institute)

Note: The following newspaper clipping was included in Van W. Sargent's memoirs. Origin and date of paper unknown. TB

Meridian Raid

Sherman devoted himself for awhile to further cripple the Southern Confederacy in his division, by a raid to Meridian, Miss., a very important railroad center where most of the Southern railroads united. He collected an army of two divisions of 10,000 men each at Vicksburg under Gens. Hurlbut and McPherson, and Feb. 3 marched thence to Meridian, 150 miles distant. Gen. Sooy Smith was to cooperate with a large force of cavalry, while Gen. Logan, at Bellefonte, Ala., was to threaten Rome, Ga., and Gen. Thomas was to demonstrate against the troops under Gen. Johnston, at Rocky Face Ridge.

Meridian was reached Feb. 14, and the Confederate troops under Gen. Polk withdrew as Sherman advanced. The arsenal, extensive storehouses and cantonments were burned, and the railroads were thoroughly destroyed in some instances for 55 miles; the trestles over swamps were burned, and all rails rendered useless. By this action the bringing up of supplies from Mississippi and Alabama was thoroughly prevented and the railroads were not restored untill after the war.

Sooy Smith did not cooperate, as was intended, and thus the expedition was prevented from pushing on to Selma, a chief center of the South. The rebels had openly retired from Meridian and reinforced Selma and Mobile, Ala. Sherman returned to Vicksburg after his command and marched from 300 to 400 miles.