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[351] camp. Nearly every one surmised that Johnston was evacuating, and the opinion prevailed that he was destroying the whole city.

As soon as it was rendered certain that the place was evacuated, crowds of soldiers marched into the city, despite orders against straggling, and commenced plundering the houses and stores of citizens. Most of the officers endeavored to prevent this indiscriminate plundering, and soon succeeded in comparatively putting an end to it.

The only pieces of artillery left by Johnston in his retreat were two sixty-four pound rifled siege-guns. One of them was uninjured, but the other had been dismounted by our batteries, and a trunnion knocked off. It had been propped up, however, in the capacity of a “quaker,” in its old position. But the “religious silence” it maintained, however, for some days, led our boys to suspect that something was wrong with it.

Some forty or fifty railroad-cars and a small quantity of cotton were left in the city, and fell into the hands of our forces.

The rebels had been busily at work in the construction of a temporary bridge across the Pearl River. The timbers for the purpose had all been framed, and half of the structure already put up. The piers of the old bridge were being used in the construction of the new one. The work was left just as the mechanics had discontinued it.

All the railroad track inside the city limits, which had been torn up by our troops on the occasion of their visit in May last, had been relaid.

The rebel works for the defence of Jackson consisted of a very formidable line of rifle-pits around three sides of the city, and at about a mile's distance from it. At intervals along this line, splendid turf-works had been constructed, which were pronounced models of engineering. These forts were embrasured for a large number of field-pieces, and two or three contained, en barbette, large sixty-four pound rifled siege-guns. One of these was located in the works on the north of the city, and the other on the west, commanding the regular Vicksburgh road. It was the latter gun which was dismounted and permanently injured, in the loss of a trunnion, by our batteries. The line of rifle-pits was constructed in that zig-zag course which brings the approaches to almost every part of the line under an enfilading flre from those parts not assailed. The timber and undergrowth had been removed for several hundred yards in front of the rebel fines, in order to give them a sweeping fire for a long distance. These trees were left lying where they fell, presenting an obstruction which would have rendered the approack of an assaulting party quite slow, and crowded the men much together. The ground was greatly undulating, as I wrote you before. But, although not steep, the ascent could not have been carried without a terrible loss of life. They were so near level as to obviate all danger of over-shooting, and the peculiar hardness and formation of the ground were particularly favorable to ricochet shots. The batteries and long lines of rifle-pits could have enfiladed and swept the wide, open space in front with a murderous fire. It is well that an assault was not ordered.

Johnston, in retreating, took the road to Meridian, the junction of the Mobile and Ohio with the railroad running east from Jackson. Here a stand can be made, or he can fall back on Mobile, or Montgomery. Meridian is six miles south of Marion, which you will find laid down on all the old maps; it is about one hundred miles east of Jackson, and twenty from the Alabama line. This is a virtual surrender of Mississippi to our forces, even if Johnston withdrawn no further than Meridian.

There have been several fires in jackson already, since our brief possession of the place. Almost a whole block of stores was destroyed this morning, and one fine dwelling-house, just outside the rebel line of defence. This evening, as I write, the skies are illuminated by a fire in the northern portion of the city. How extensive it is, I am unable to say. By the time our army has captured, evacuated, and again captured Jackson, there will be nothing left of it. Nothing is safe or respected here, but every thing destructible seems doomed to destruction. Such is war.

During a portion of the day the rebels held the extreme upper and lower fords, but were finally dislodged by our troops crossing at the central ford, between the floating bridges, a few hundred yards above the old railroad bridge. Their object was to delay the crossing of our cavalry until the rear of Johnston's column had reached a safe distance. One of our cavalrymen, crossing at the central ford, captured a confederate prisoner about half a mile from the river, and was proceeding to bring him back into the city. When within a few hundred yards of the ford, with his prisoner walking beside him, his horse stepped upon and exploded a torpedo, planted in the ground and concealed in the dust. The horse was literally split wide open by the explosion, and the rider almost instantly killed. A fragment struck the prisoner a short distance below the thigh, completely shattering the leg to the knee. His life is despaired of. It is not known whether there are any more of these torpedoes planted in the roads or not, but it is presumed they are, and great caution is exercised by our soldiers in consequence.

The Deaf and dumb Asylum was between the two lines, and consequently in the line of fire from both sides. It is riddled with shot, and is now but a mere wreck. It never was a first-class building, and the loss cannot be very great. The Insane Asylum was within our lines from the first, and has been under the protection of a guard detailed by General Parks. The only injury it sustained was from a thirty-two pound solid shot from the enemy's guns, which passed

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