Whether the retreat of Sherman
's column from Meridian
in the direction of Vicksburg
is designed to be the end of his movement, or whether it is a mere temporary expedient, adopted for the purpose of enabling him to make better preparations for so long a march as that indicated by the New York Times
, we are unable to say. In either case it is greatly to our advantage, since it will enable us to collect a strong force in his front, should he choose to advance again; or, should he continue his retrograde movement, to harass his rear, cut off his foraging parties, and otherwise inflict serious damage upon his command.
We should even hope that he might be cut off and forced to lay down his arms, had we not been warned by the escape of Stoneman
last spring, and the escape of Averill
last December, that success in such cases is apt to be more desirable than attainable.
And yet, we should think it would be far easier to capture Sherman
than either of the others.
Their commands consisted entirely of mounted men, and were capable of moving with great rapidity.
His cavalry, on the contrary, seem to have been separated from him. The men he has with him are mostly infantry and artillery.
They started with twenty days cooked rations, one-half of which, no doubt, after the fashion of soldiers generally, they threw away, and the other half have already consumed.
They destroyed everything in the country as they passed, corn, bacon, beef — all kinds of provisions that fell in their way — part of their mission being to starve out the rebels.
They threw down and burned all the fences, set fire to all the dwelling-houses, barns, corn- houses, fodder stacks, hay-ricks, smoke-houses, mills, and cotton gins — tore up all the bridges — cut down all the fruit trees, destroyed all the farming implements
, and shot all the horses, mules, and cattle, which they could not carry off. In a word, they converted the country into a desert, in order that it might not hereafter afford sustenance to the rebels.
It seems, therefore, almost impossible that they can themselves find the means of subsisting, since their communication with the railroad, by which they were to be supplied, has, according to all accounts, been at least partially interrupted.
And interruption for even a day would be, to men in their situation, a terrible privation.
It seems to be the opinion of some that this force of Sherman
's was a mere flying column — such as the French
made such free use of in Algeria
— designed to desolate the country through which it passed, without having in view the establishment of any fixed line or station.
Such does not seem to have been the opinion of the Yankee
newspapers, who always seem to be well posted with regard to the intentions of their Generals
, and not unfrequently betray them before the time appointed for their execution.
The New York Times
--the great military paper of the Yankee
nation — had no doubt that Sherman
's movement was part of a grand military combination, which was to put the whole of Alabama
in possession of their army, to turn the flank and rear of Johnston
, and, in a word, to put an end to the rebellion.
A screw — probably more than one screw — was evidently loose somewhere.
did not come up to time, or Forrest
were too active for the Yankee
cavalry, or Gen. Polk
's position on the Bigbee was too strong for an army who carried all their supplies in their haversacks, or something of that nature, we may be assured, arrested the march.
Whether it will be renewed, will, we presume, depend very much upon the activity of our troops in the pursuit; for, it seems to us, that if the people of the country yield the assistance they ought, Sherman
must be annihilated.