In the meantime General Sherman
, after crossing Big Black river
on two different roads, advanced rapidly to Jackson
, arriving there on the morning of February 6th.
He crossed Pearl river
on the 6th and 7th of February, and pressed out towards Brandon
on the road to Meridian
, arriving at Brandon
on February 7th, at Morton
February 7th, and at Meridian
February 14th at 3 P. M., the Confederate infantry and cavalry gradually falling back before him.
made a dash at some wagons near Decatur
The enemy was found moving with every precaution, their trains perfectly and judiciously arranged with each brigade, no foraging parties out, and their large infantry force ready to punish any ill-advised attempt on their column.
Colonel R. C. Wood
's Mississippi Regiment disabled about twenty wagons, but could not bring them off, as the infantry advanced on him from the front and the rear of the column.
This was found to be the case wherever an attempt was made by the cavalry to impede the march.
On the 13th General Polk
ordered General Lee
to again get to the north of General Sherman
's line of march, as he proposed to evacuate Meridian
and march with his infantry towards Demopolis, Ala.
The enemy arrived at Meridian
at 3 P. M., February 14th, the Confederate cavalry retiring towards Marion station
On this date (February 14th) General Polk
issued an order placing Major-General Stephen D. Lee
in command of all the cavalry west of Alabama
That officer at once put himself in rapid communication with General Forrest
, who was then concentrating his command near Starkville, Miss.
, to check the large cavalry force which had left Collerville, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and was rapidly moving southward in the direction of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and towards the great prairie region.
For some reason this cavalry force of 7,000 men had delayed a week in starting to join General Sherman
From February 15th to 20th, General Sherman
, while at Meridian
, was engaged in destroying the railroad in every direction, north, south, east and west, for this purpose placing two divisions of infantry on each road.
The road was destroyed for twelve miles in each direction, making a destruction of about fifty miles of railroad.
Attempts to stop the work were made by the cavalry, but the enemies' force was too large for it. In addition to destroying the railroads, they destroyed the city of Meridian
, burning most of the houses, depots, hotels, boarding houses, and those near them.
On February 20th, General Sherman
began his return march to