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[319] his campaign, and this work was done by Major George Whitfield and Major Pritchard, of the Confederate Quartermaster Department.

The campaign, however, did demonstrate how few troops the Confederacy had, and that it was a mere shell, all the fighting men being in the armies at the front, and only helpless women and children and negroes occupied the interior; that the few troops in Mississippi had to fall back until the armies at the front could be awakened to meet any new army not in front of the main armies; that General Sherman could easily, at almost a moment's notice, take 30,000 men from the garrisons on the Mississippi river and move into Mississippi. General Sherman was outgeneraled by General Polk, and the expedition was devoid of military interest, but was most remarkable as bringing out clearly the harsh and cruel warfare waged against the Confederacy. General Sherman, in his official report, says he ‘made a swath of desolation fifty miles broad across the State of Mississippi, which the present generation will not forget.’ In his orders to General W. S. Smith, he tells him ‘to take horses, mules and cattle, and to destroy mills, barns, sheds, stables, etc.,’ and to tell the people ‘it was their time to be hurt.’ He literally carried out his plan to ‘make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war as well as the organized armies.’ The reports of the Confederate commanders show that with the above-given license the enemy regarded nothing in the way of property, public or private, as worthy to be spared. General Stephen D. Lee, in his official report says:

‘On the line of march the enemy took or destroyed everything, carried off every animal, 8,000 negroes, burnt every vacant house, destroyed furniture, destruction was fearful.’

The track of the Federal column was marked by wanton destruction of private property, cotton, corn, horses, provisions, furniture and all that could be destroyed. The people were left in absolute want. A Federal correspondent who accompanied Sherman, estimated the damage at $50,000,000, and three-fourths of this was private property, Meridian, Canton and other towns being almost totally destroyed. It is painful now, when we are again a reunited and prosperous people, and the worst memories of the war have been relegated to the past, to recall this sad recollection, but the truth of history demands that the facts be given as they really were.

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