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[317]

What the Confederate soldier found—a Mississippi valley mill This gloomy scene is a reminder of the fate that befell the Mississippi valley and many another fertile region of the South. Western raids throughout the war destroyed hundreds of miles of railroad, burned the cars, and blew up the locomotives, fell upon tanneries and shoe-factories, wrecked arsenals, captured commissary stores, put the torch to cotton-factories, and in every possible way crippled the resources of the South for continuing the struggle. General Grant tells of an incident at his capture of Jackson, Mississippi, on May 14, 1863. Sherman was instructed to destroy ‘the railroads, bridges, factories, workshops, arsenals, and everything valuable for the support of the enemy.’ The two generals went into a very valuable cotton-factory, where the machinery was running at full speed and all the hands were at work, as if the city had not fallen into the hands of the enemy. While the military leaders stood there, hundreds of yards of canvas rolled out from the looms with the stamp of the Confederate Quartermaster's Department upon it. It was to be used in tents. After looking on the busy scene for a few minutes, the order was given for the place to be vacated, and within an hour the building and its warehouses were in flames. The next day the work of destruction was so thoroughly accomplished that ‘Jackson as a railroad center or Government depot of stores and military factories,’ it was reported, could be of little use for at least six months.

 

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