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Doc. 122.-Sherman's Mississippi expedition.


Despatch from General Sherman.

Vicksburgh, February 27, via Cairo, March 10, 1864.
Lieutenant-General Grant, care of Major-General Halleck:
General: I got in this morning from Canton, where I left my army in splendid heart and condition. We reached Jackson February sixth, crossed the Pearl, and passed through Brandon to Morton, where the enemy made dispositions for battle, but fled in the night. We posted on over all obstacles, and reached Meridian February fourteenth. General Polk, having a railroad to assist him in his retreat, escaped across the Tombigbee on the seventeenth. We staid at Meridian a week, and made the most complete destruction of the railroads ever beheld — south below Quitman, east to Cuba Station, twenty miles north to Lauderdale Springs, and west all the way back to Jackson. I could hear nothing of the cavalry force of General William Smith ordered to be there by February tenth. I inclose by mail this, with a copy of his instructions. I then began to give back slowly, making a circuit by the north to Canton, where I left the army yesterday, in splendid condition. I will leave it there five days, in hopes the cavalry from Memphis will turn up there. I will have them come in.

W. T. Sherman, Major-General.


[470]

Despatch from General Butterfield.

Major-General Butterfield, under date of Cairo, March eleventh, addressed the following to Lieutenant-General Grant or General Halleck:

General Sherman arrived yesterday at Memphis. His command is all safe. Our total loss in killed, wounded, and missing is one hundred and seventy only.

The general result of his expedition, including Smith's and the Yazoo River movements, are about as follows: One hundred and fifty miles of railroad, sixty-seven bridges, seven thousand feet of trestle, twenty locomotives, twenty-eight cars, ten thousand bales of cotton, several steam-mills, and over two — million bushels of corn were destroyed. The railroad destruction is complete and thorough. The capture of prisoners exceeds all loss. Upward of eight thousand contrabands and refugees came in with various columns.


Journal of the March.

Vicksburgh, March 6, 1864.
dear Editor: On the third ultimo, Sherman's expedition left Vicksburgh for Meridian, cutting right through the capital and across the centre of “proud Mississippi.” The army was made up of two divisions--General Veatch's and General A. J. Smith's--Sixteenth army corps, and two divisions--General Leggett's and General Crocker's--Seventeenth army corps; together with Colonel Winslow's brigade of cavalry, and one brigade (General Chambers's) infantry; making in all forty-one regiments of infantry, three of cavalry, and seven batteries of light artillery, with one battalion of cavalry under Captain Foster, commanding the Fourth Ohio cavalry, of General McPherson's body-guard, two pioneer corps, and making a force of less than twenty thousand fighting men. I am thus particular in giving numbers, since our force has been everywhere overstated, and if any credit is due for what was accomplished, or blame ascribed for shortcomings, let praise or blame be awarded understandingly. A brief diary of events, marches, etc., will convey some idea of our trip.

February third, marched seventeen miles, crossing the Big Black at the old railroad bridge, and camped near Edwards's Depot. Weather fine and troops in good condition. General Hurlbut is crossing Big Black at Messenger, on the old Jackson road, six miles above our crossing.

February fourth, marched fourteen miles and camped beyond Champion Hills. Some skirmishing with the enemy.

February fifth, marched to-day fifteen miles, and camped two miles west of Jackson. Had sharp skirmishing with the enemy's cavalry, losing some seven men killed, thirty wounded, and thirteen prisoners. The enemy's loss was much heavier than ours.

February sixth, marched into Jackson. The Iowa brigade cross Pearl River, and take the advance. March of five miles.

February seventh, messengers from Big Black came through last night with despatches for General Sherman and found the enemy already in our rear, to attack the supply-trains. Hope they will have a good time cutting our communications. Marched to-day thirteen miles to Brandon; Captain Foster commanding the cavalry advance, and Major Foster (Eleventh Iowa) the infantry advance. Our infantry advance made this distance in four and one half hours marching time. Slight skirmishing.

February eighth, leaving Brandon “purified as by fire” of much rebel nutriment, we marched sixteen miles, and camp in a grove of pitch-pine. Thirteenth Iowa engaged in destroying the railroad.

February ninth, marched ten miles, to Morton Station, and engaged in tearing up railroad track; some miles of track torn up, rails heated and twisted, bridges, culverts, and stations burned, etc.; Sixteenth army corps, under General Hurlbut, pass to the front to-day; slight skirmishing to-day.

February tenth, marched fifteen miles to-day, and camped three miles east of Hillsboroa, county-seat of Scott County, which place was purified also as above written. The “payment in kind” of tithes of the farmers' and planters' crops to the rebel government, which has been collected in large quantities at these towns, feeds now the vandal hosts, and the residue is consigned to the flames, which sometimes spread to buildings not ordered to be burned. The jail, too, where Sambo once waited for his kind and indulgent master, vanished in smoke and ashes. We hear of slight skirmishing again to-day in front.

Three men of the Iowa Thirteenth and two of the Iowa Sixteenth were captured while out foraging. One other was captured, robbed of hat, coat, and boots, shot twice after being taken, and left for dead, but got back to camp in the night. He thinks his comrades were murdered after being taken.

February eleventh, lay in camp until six P. M., then out all night, making seven miles through the swamps. Thirteenth Iowa sent forward to support cavalry in a raid on Lake Station. Depot and road destroyed, also two locomotives and thirty cars.

February twelfth, marched eighteen miles to Decatur, county-seat of Newton County. Purified. Slight skirmish. We lost twelve men killed; the rebels lost six men killed, and twelve wounded and taken prisoners.

February thirteenth, marched thirteen miles, and packed our extra teams. The Iowa brigade remain four days with the transportation, guarding it, and skirmishing with the enemy; then marched on the eighteenth to Meridian. Here the destruction of rebel property was very great, including railroad and railroad buildings, State arsenal, with guns, machinery, etc., all of which are utterly destroyed. General Crocker's division went south, twenty-seven miles, utterly and completely wiping out the railroad, and also the rebel camps at Enterprise, Quitman, etc. The cavalry did a similar work east to the State line, and the Sixteenth army corps north to Lauderdale [471] Springs. This grand crossing of the main railroads of the south-west, at Meridian, is crossed out for the war, and the “tax in kind” will hardly be wagoned out of Mississippi to any great extent.

February twentieth, commenced our return march, making sixteen miles.

February twenty-first, marched fourteen miles to Decatur.

February twenty-second, marched eighteen miles.

February twenty-third, marched twelve miles to Hillsboro. Found the graves of Walker (company I) and Griggs, privates of the Thirteenth Iowa, both murdered after being captured, as narrated above.

February twenty-fourth, the “Iowa brigade” marched twenty-three miles in eight hours and a half, to Pearl River, to guard pioneers in building bridges over the river on the Canton road.

February twenty-fifth, finished the bridge and crossed to-day.

February twenty-sixth, marched thirteen miles to Canton, county-seat of Madison County, remaining four days, the town guarded by the Iowa brigade.

March first to fourth, marched sixty-four miles to Vicksburgh. Some skirmishing. Lieutenant Kilpatrick, with nine men, was captured while out foraging.

As the result of our expedition, we cut off the rebel supplies from this State, demonstrated the ability of our veterans to go where they please, brought in some two hundred and fifty prisoners of war, about as many refugees, nearly six thousand negroes, (several hundred of whom go into our army,) several hundred teams, with cattle, mules, horses, etc., in large numbers. We buried sixty rebels killed, and lost ten killed in action. Our losses were small, and mostly from stragglers and small foraging parties captured — in all not exceeding two hundred and fifty.



A national account.

on board the steamer Constitution, March 5, 1864.
The expedition under the command of General Sherman set out from Vicksburgh on February third, in two columns, one under the command of General Hurlbut, proceeding by the old Jackson road, and crossing the Big Black by a pontoon-bridge at Messenger's Ferry; the other under command of General McPherson, crossing the river at the railroad bridge. In order to facilitate the progress of the army, all unnecessary baggage was left behind, the soldiers taking twenty days rations. The weather was beautiful, and the roads in excellent condition, and every thing bid fair for a speedy and successful march. What made it much more auspicious than such expeditions usually are, was the fact that the enemy knew little or nothing in regard to our numbers and intentions; in fact, the expedition was a complete surprise to them, and throughout the march they seemed completely nonplussed and at a loss what to do. The country from Vicksburgh to the Big Black is completely stripped of every thing that can afford sustenance to man or beast, and such is the case only in a less marked degree as far as Jackson.

After crossing the Big Black, both columns had skirmishing with the enemy's cavalry at intervals until we arrived at Jackson. The cavalry belonged to S. D. Lee and Ferguson's commands. These skirmishes, though in some cases severe, caused our forces but little delay, as they speedily drove the enemy back. In this day's skirmishes, the enemy acknowledge a loss of ten killed and thirty or forty wounded. Among the former was Major Bidden. This loss was at least twice as great as our own. The confederates had four pieces of artillery, and there is no doubt that it was their intention to make a stand at the fortifications of Jackson. These fortifications consist of earthworks and rifle-pits, and would have afforded considerable protection against an assailing party. A force of cavalry was sent out by another route, which ran parallel to the main road, and succeeded in flanking them, when they retreated in great haste. Our cavalry captured one of their guns, a rifled tenpounder, with caisson, horses, etc., and several prisoners. The flight of the enemy through the town and across Pearl River, was a perfect skedaddle. So great was their haste, that they had no time to destroy the fine pontoon-bridge which they had erected across Pearl River, except to cut the ropes; and it was used the next day by our troops in crossing. After our army had crossed, and was on the way to Brandon; the bridge was destroyed by the confederates to cut off our retreat. We had no desire to retreat till our mission was accomplished. Jackson is a sorry-looking place; all the public buildings having been destroyed, except the State House and City Hall. Besides the public buildings, nearly all the stores and many private dwellings have been burned. Most of it was done during the occupation of the city by our forces one year ago.

Our march from Jackson to Brandon was mostly free from skirmishing, the enemy having become thoroughly demoralized and chiefly occupied in making good their escape. We found plenty of meat and corn on the route, which the soldiers were not slow to avail themselves of to lengthen out the supplies which were brought with us. It was the expectation, when the expedition started out, that they would draw most of their supplies and all the forage for horses and mules from the country. There was very little difficulty in finding enough for our purpose, even in the most barren part of the country which we passed through. There was nothing left, however, after our passage, and in many instances the people must suffer for the want of food. The statements that the confederates would suffer from starvation are without foundation. There is plenty of corn and meat in the country, but very little else; yet this will serve to sustain life, and people can fight, living on this alone, if they can get nothing else. They appear to [472] suffer more from want of proper clothing than any thing else.

The country from Jackson to Brandon is very good, and there are many fine plantations. We passed through the latter place on the eighth ultimo. It is a pleasant village, and the countyseat of Rankin County. This county has a voting population of more than one thousand two hundred, and gave one hundred and sixteen majority against secession when the State went out of the Union. Honorable J. J. Thornton, a resident of this town, was the only member of the State Legislature that voted against secession when the final vote was taken. His drug-store was plundered by our troops. Quite a large quantity of meal was found at this place, which was seized for the use of the army. A large number of private dwellings were burned here as well as at other places on the route, but they were in nearly every case deserted houses and their owners in the rebel army. The burning was mostly done by stragglers, and there were strict orders issued against it by the Commanding Generals. The railroad had been put in good repair by the rebels from Meridian to Jackson, and from the latter place through Canton north to Grenada. It was by this road that the confederates at Meridian and Mobile got most of their supplies. The trains ran until the day before we arrived. We destroyed the road at different places all the way through to Meridian.

The march from Brandon through Moreton to Hillsboro was devoid of interest, except an occasional skirmish with the enemy's cavalry, in which they invariably got the worst of it. This is in part owing to the fact that our cavalry always dismount in skirmishing with the enemy in the woods, which gives them the advantage of getting under cover and moving about with greater facility. The country through which we passed is sandy and barren, and the timber wholly pine. The inhabitants were scattered and belong to the poorer class, yet we found no difficulty in finding meat and corn for forage. Hillsboro is a scattered town of twenty houses, and the county-seat of Scott County. Beyond Hillsboro, toward Decatur, we found the bridges across the creeks destroyed, and trees felled across the road. These impediments caused some delay, but a pioneer corps was organized and the contrabands set at work, who soon put things to rights.

The largest streams we passed were the Big and Little Chunky. At the Big Chunky we had quite a skirmish with the enemy, in which several of their number were killed and wounded; our loss was trifling. A force was sent to Chunky Station, twelve miles south of our route, to destroy the railroad. They had quite a severe skirmish with the enemy, but succeeded in accomplishing their object. This force, moving in that direction, led the rebel General Polk to think that our army had started for Mobile, and caused him to send a portion of his force at Meridian in that direction, and led to the subsequent evacuation of that post.

We omitted to state that our train was attacked by about forty rebel cavalry while passing through Decatur, on the evening of the twelfth ultimo. Several of the mules were killed or disabled, but none of the wagons were captured, and the rebs were speedily driven back.

On the twelfth and thirteenth we passed several swamps where a small force might have detained us a long time, and perhaps effectually kept us back, but it was evidently no part of the rebel programme to fight; they were all too busy in making good their escape. In fact, what few confederates we saw, appeared to be completely demoralized. On the evening of the thirteenth our advance encamped within ten miles of Meridian. As Polk was known to have quite a large force, our boys were in hopes of having a fight. On this evening our cavalry had a skirmish with the confederate cavalry, which resulted in the death of half a dozen of the latter without any loss to us. On the morning of the fourteenth our forces were up and moving bright and early. After proceeding within four miles of Meridian, we found a bridge burned across a small creek which caused a delay of two or three hours.

After passing the creek a short distance, we found a sort of breast-work and cotton bales piled up for artillery, as though the confederates designed to make a stand. It was an admirable place for the purpose; but their hearts evidently failed them, and we found their works deserted. About two miles from the town we passed the winter-quarters of the confederate troops. They appeared to be quite comfortable, and admirably located. Soon after passing the camps, our cavalry, under Colonel Winslow, encountered the rear-guard of the enemy; but the gallant Colonel made short work of them, and drove them through the town toward Demopolis, at a doublequick. Immediately following the cavalry came the Third division of the Sixteenth army corps, with flags flying and bands playing national airs. It must have been a novel sight to what few inhabitants were left. They had not witnessed any thing of the kind before since the fall of Sumter. There were no manifestations of joy exhibited by the inhabitants of Meridian, nor indeed were there at any place on the route. The people looked upon it very much as they would on a flood or conflagration — as something which could not be helped, and could only be made the best of.

The march from Vicksburgh to Meridian was accomplished in eleven days. The distance is not far from one hundred and fifty miles. We were now in the very heart of the enemy's country, with no possibility of communication with any point, and supplies enough to last us but a very few days. Where was the boasted Southern Confederacy, that they did not attack and annihilate our little army? Nothing in the whole war has shown the rebel weakness, the inside rottenness of the Confederacy as plainly as this expedition. Polk has been censured by the Southerners for not attacking Sherman; but if he had, he would most assuredly have been beaten. [473] Polk had in the aggregate from fourteen to fifteen thousand men. Nine thousand. infantry under the command of Generals Loring and French, and five thousand cavalry, under the command of S. D. Lee, Wirt Adams, and Ferguson. In an advantageous position this force, if concentrated, might perhaps have made a stand and caused us considerable delay, but the result could not but have been disastrous to the rebels The braggadocio spirit, and even the disposition to fight, has nearly gone out of the confederates. Very many of them are convinced that it is of no use to fight longer, and that they can get just as good terms now as ever. They think the war is kept up merely for the leaders, and that is a poor cause to fight for.

Meridian is a new town, built in the pine woods, and derives its only importance from its railroad connections. The Mobile and Ohio Railroad intersects the Southern. These roads not only afforded the confederates means of communication, but supplies from Mobile and other points were obtained over these roads. Their importance to the confederates is almost incalculable. One great object of the expedition was the destruction of these roads, and it is needless to say that it was successfully accomplished. The rails were first torn up, and then the ties were dug up and piled together. Afterward the rails were placed across the ties and fire set to them. The rails becoming heated, bent down at each end, thus becoming totally unfit for use. This process was carried on for at least a dozen miles in each direction from Meridian, besides at other places along the route. The scarcity of iron in the Confederacy makes the loss doubly severe to the rebels. It will be a long time before the roads are repaired again, if it is ever done by the confederates. A force was sent south as far as Enterprise, where they had a slight skirmish with the enemy. Also one as far north as Marion, where they had another skirmish. Our cavalry was saved a great deal of skirmishing by the use of artillery. A few shells sent among the rebs judiciously would invariably send them skedaddling pell-mell. The booming of our cannon was always the signal for them to start. It seems that the confederates thought they were perfectly secure in Meridian, as the officers were building for themselves fine residences. General Polk, the fighting Bishop, had one partly finished. Our boys finished it for him, as well as those belonging to the other officers. There was quite an extensive arsenal in the place where old guns and pistols were altered, so as to be good as new. Also bayonets were altered to what they think a superior pattern, but our boys did not like their appearance as well as our own. They were broader and more flat than ours. The arsenal was destroyed, together with the railroad buildings, and several buildings containing commissary stores. The confederates had removed most of their stores. Had General W. S. Smith's cavalry expedition arrived as was intended, no doubt much of their stores would have been destroyed. During our stay at Meridian, some foraging parties were attacked by the enemy's cavalry, and a few of our boys were wounded, but none killed. To destroy what was of use to the enemy in and around Meridian, required five days. It is needless to say that the destruction was thoroughly accomplished, and that it will be a long time before the rebels will wish to see the Union army in that vicinity again.

Having accomplished the object of the expedition, and our provisions running low, the expedition started back on the twentieth ultimo. The route chosen was through Canton, to the northward of the one going out. This was done, partly that supplies might be obtained, and partly for the reason that there was confederate property to be destroyed. On the return march, the contrabands began to pour in upon us by hundreds. Old men and young men, women and children, of all ages, some on foot, some on horseback, and some in wagons drawn by oxen. It was a motley sight. Officers were appointed over them, who sought to keep them together, but this was next to impossible. Men might be seen who started with a large family and lost them every one. They were undoubtedly somewhere with the train, and cared for as well as possible.

One thing the darkeys showed themselves fully susceptible of: the art of foraging. Not a chicken or a pig showed its luckless head, but, in the words of the darkeys themselves, it was a goner. Nothing so nettled the secessionists as to have things taken from them by the negroes. If our soldiers took what they wanted to eat, they seldom uttered a word, but took it as a matter of course; but let a contraband capture any thing, and they complained bitterly.

Our march to Canton was devoid of interest. The country is sandy and the soil poor, until we approach Pearl River. This we crossed on a pontoon-bridge. Afterward the country becomes better, and we passed many fine plantations. We found considerable cotton at different places on the route, all of which was burned. One of our men who had straggled from his command, was found tied to a tree and shot. He was not dead when found, and was taken along with us, but the poor fellow could hardly recover. During the march we lost several men by straggling, but for the distance marched the number of stragglers was remarkably small. As a general thing our soldiers stood the march remarkably well. Enough horses and mules were captured so that those who were sick and tired out could ride. Canton is a fine village and contains many splendid residences. It is really the prettiest place in the State. It is situated about one hundred miles from Meridian, and seventy from Vicksburgh. Fifteen locomotives were captured near this place. Their loss will be great to the rebels, as they are very much troubled to obtain rolling stock. Their cars and engines are nearly worn out, and their means for replacing them are very limited. The railroad was destroyed at this place for a long distance. A large quantity of meal was obtained at this place, which came very opportunely for [474] our soldiers, for their hard tack had nearly given out. From Canton, the larger part of the train and the contrabands were sent to Vicksburgh in advance of the main army. The second night out from Canton it rained, and continued to do so the greater part of the next day. This was the first rain of any account that we had experienced on the expedition. This was enough to show us how impossible it would have been for the expedition to have succeeded had the weather been rainy instead of dry and pleasant. It was so muddy that the train was all day going the distance of eight miles, and worked very hard at that. It was enough to make one's heart bleed to see the poor contrabands, shivering with the cold, children crying, and women moaning piteously, all endeavoring to the best of their ability to keep up with the train. Their troubles were of short duration, for the weather soon cleared up, and they were able to keep up with the train quite comfortably. The rest of our march to Vicksburgh was accomplished without any event worthy of notice. We arrived on the second instant, having been absent from that place almost a month.

The confederates will consider this expedition as the boldest move of the war. For an army no larger than that which accompanied Sherman to advance into the very heart of the Confederacy without any communication for nearly a month, and that, too, where the rebels had a perfect railroad communication, was truly a bold move. It shows more plainly than any thing else that has transpired the real weakness of the Confederacy. Had they the troops to spare from any point, or could they have been raised in any manner, he would not have been allowed to return without serious opposition. It is an eye-opener to the people of Mississippi, and can hardly but convince them that it is useless to protract the war longer. Nearly all with whom we conversed, confessed as much. Regarded in this light, the expedition has done a great deal of good.

Nearly one hundred miles of railroad were destroyed, and that in such a manner that it will have to be entirely rebuilt with new iron — no very easy job, when we consider the scarcity of that article at the South, and the increasing scarcity of labor. These railroads were of untold value to the South, as a means of communication with different parts of the Confederacy, and for the transmission of supplies. Besides the railroads and railroad-buildings, other buildings and stores, horses and mules captured to the number of two or three thousand, and contrabands to the number of five thousand, will swell the amount of loss to the confederates to nearly twenty millions of dollars. The country through which we passed was obliged to be stripped of nearly every thing eatable to support our army. As the people must seek sustenance elsewhere, it is really. taking supplies away from the confederates. There was considerable destruction of private property, which may hardly be considered justifiable; yet the houses destroyed were almost invariably deserted, and their owners, in all probability, in the confederate army. Quite a quantity of cotton was also destroyed.

This was done with little or no additional expense to our Government, as the army drew most of its supplies from the country.

The loss on our side is trifling. Probably one hundred will cover the killed, wounded, and prisoners. The loss of the enemy was much greater in killed and wounded, and we captured more than two hundred prisoners and deserters, among them several officers. Our soldiers endured the long march remarkably well, and there were very few cases of sickness.

The five thousand contrabands is taking just so much from the productive interest of the country, and consequently from the confederates. Nearly all the able-bodied ones will enter the army. In fact, we were informed that one thousand have already done so. The remainder will be sent to the contraband camp and employed to work on the plantations as occasion may require.

The weather, with one or two slight exceptions, was delightful throughout the trip. Had this not been the case, the expedition would have been greatly delayed, as the roads in some parts of the route would have been nearly or quite impassable. The nights were cool and frosty, and sometimes the ice froze quite thick.

The expedition may be considered a success, as all was accomplished that was designed or in our power to accomplish. But for the unaccountable non-arrival of General W. S. Smith's cavalry expedition from Memphis, perhaps more of the confederate commissary stores and more prisoners might have been captured. Some may be disappointed, because Sherman did not follow up the enemy to Mobile, but a little consideration by one acquainted with the facts in the case and the difficulties to be overcome will convince him that such a thing was altogether impracticable. Mobile can be attacked with more hope of success in another direction.



Another account.

The great raid of the war is about ended, and the army which has marched over four hundred miles in thirty days, and which has left so many terrible marks of its prowess in its track, will soon be snug in quarters on the banks of the Mississippi. The consequences of the expedition are beyond calculation, and the damage done to the confederate cause cannot be estimated in dollars and cents. Injury has been inflicted which Jeff Davis and all his dominions have not the power to repair. A breach has been made within the limits of their dominions which will never be closed during the life of this rebellion.

Portions of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth army corps, commanded respectively by Major-Generals Hurlbut and McPherson, with Major-General Sherman in command of the expedition, left their camps on the third ultimo, and crossed Black River in two columns, the Sixteenth forming the left wing of the army, at Messenger's [475] Ferry, and the Seventeenth, which formed the right, at the railroad-bridge, eight miles below.

No tents were taken with us, and all, from the General Commanding to the rank and file, bivouacked by a thousand camp-fires in the open air, on the first night, five miles east of Black River, having marched a distance of twenty miles.

One brigade of cavalry, under command of Colonel Winslow, and a battalion, commanded by Captain John Foster, accompanied the expedition, and on the morning of the fourth, Foster's advance-guard was met by Adams's rebel cavalry, at Champion Hills, who charged upon our small force, running over them, and taking seven prisoners. Their loss was one man killed and one wounded and left on the field. Captain Foster pushed forward and made a dash upon the enemy, and routed him with considerable loss. Their forces, consisting of about seven thousand men, commanded by Generals Wirt Adams, Ross, and Ferguson, and the whole under command of General S. D. Lee, then fell back to a commanding position on the west side of Baker's Creek, where our cavalry force encountered them in the afternoon, and were unable to dislodge them until an infantry force of the Seventeenth corps came up to join in the assault. The enemy had several pieces of artillery which he used upon us at this point with considerable effect. Our loss here was fifteen killed and a proportionate number wounded. The Tenth Missouri cavalry suffered most, but company I, Twelfth Wisconsin infantry, lost three men by a shell from the enemy, and Colonel Rogers, of the Fifteenth Illinois, was slightly wounded by a rifle-shot. At sundown the enemy had been driven across Baker's Creek, and we held the bridge during the night with two twenty-pounder Parrotts, supported by two regiments of infantry. During the night General McPherson communicated by one of his aids, Lieutenant Vernay, with General Hurlbut, who lay six miles north of us, and learned that the enemy was stubbornly disputing his advance.

At sunrise, on the morning of the fifth, the enemy commenced a heavy artillery-fire upon us from the crest of a long ridge which ran parallel with Baker's Creek and three fourths of a mile distant from it. An open level plain lay between us, and the enemy's column could be distinctly seen from our camp in line of battle. The third and fourth divisions of the Seventeenth corps, Brigadier-Generals Leggett and Crocker commanding, were thrown across the creek, and formed in line of battle, facing the enemy, while our Parrotts replied rapidly to the call made upon them by the enemy's guns. Twenty minutes were consumed in forming the line of battle, when the word “forward” was sounded along the lines, and the troops moved forward steadily, coolly, irresistibly, It was a spectacle which, for dazzling splendor, has been seldom equalled, never excelled. Our troops were formed in two columns, about half a mile in length, and with an interval of two hundred yards between, the whole preceded by a strong line of skirmishers; and as all moved forward with the precision of clock-work, with banners and battleflags unfurled, and ten thousand bayonets blazing in the light of a bright morning sun, while a solid column of, sullen, grim “graybacks” stood waiting their approach, each of us felt proud to claim a place in the army of the United States. Our troops were anxious, and all preparations had been made for a determined and desperate onset; but they were doomed to disappointment. When our front column came within long riflerange, the ranks of the enemy broke, and they fled in confusion. Our men went forward at a double-quick with a terrible yell, and overtook the retreating foe in a dense skirt of timber in rear of their position, and cut them to pieces badly, killing and wounding a great number of men and horses, all of which fell into our hands. Our loss here was about twenty-five killed and wounded.

The enemy retreated as fast as possible, and passed through Clinton as our advance entered the town. The road from Messenger's came in here, and the Sixteenth corps came in after the Seventeenth had passed through the place. Lee again planted his artillery in such a manner as to command the road two miles east of Clinton, but was soon routed, with slight damage to us. At this point, Lieutenant-Colonel William T. Clark's horse was shot from under him, and he received a slight scratch on the hand from a rifle-ball. We passed forward as rapidly as possible, and at ten o'clock P. M., the Seventeenth army corps bivouacked among the ruins of the fallen city of Jackson. Our cavalry had pressed the enemy closely to this point, and as he entered the town was compelled to abandon a fine Whitworth gun, which fell into our hands. From here the enemy went north, to Canton, and crossed Pearl River, and marched again to our front, with his forces augmented by the addition of General Loring's division of infantry, seven thousand strong.

The sixth was consumed in constructing a pontoon-bridge across Pearl River, and in destroying a large amount of public stores and arms, and the track of the Mississippi Central Road, which had been repaired a short time before by the confederate forces. Five of General Jackson's couriers were captured during the day, and from despatches found on their persons, we learned that their loss so far had been two hundred and fifty men killed and wounded.

On the twelfth, we crossed Pearl River, and marched twelve miles to Brandon. A small force of rebel cavalry skirmished with our advance-guard all day, and we took several prisoners, and captured a number of horses and mules. A large lot of corn-meal and other subsistence stores were found and destroyed. We also obtained late files of Southern papers, one of which contained a correspondence from one Miss Latham, who was expelled from our lines some time since for taking on “horse-airs” in church. It made the startling announcement to the Southern public, that the “Yanks” had added another [476] animal to their menagerie in the person of “Beast McPherson.” The General felt badly, but could not weep.

On the eighth, we encountered the enemy, fourteen thousand strong, at a point he had selected to check our progress, but a charge made by our cavalry, and a few rounds from our infantry, soon scattered them, and they again marched eastward in disorder. They formed their line of battle in front of a house occupied by a family, and a woman was unfortunately killed by one of our skirmishers. Lieutenant-Colonel Strong, under instructions from the General commanding, procured a coffin, and had the body decently interred.

A large number of prisoners and deserters were brought in at this place, who all agreed in saying that their army was in a most wretched state of demoralization, and that they were determined not to fight — that every preparation had been made here for fighting a desperate battle, and the officers made every effort to bring their forces into it, but utterly failed. The men said they had been defeated and cut to pieces by superior numbers repeatedly, under bad leadership; that they had retreated, and been harassed until they had no heart to fight and would not. One regiment was disarmed and sent back in arrest, and when volunteers were called for to attempt to hold their ground, they could not find an hundred to the regiment who were willing to make the trial.

The Seventeenth corps halted at Morton Station on the ninth, and the Sixteenth corps passed to the front. Great numbers of dead mules and horses lay along the road; wagons, ammunition, blankets, clothing, and guns, were scattered by the wayside, and all went to show the disastrous effects of that disorderly retreat.

We passed through Hillsboro, a town of about twenty houses, on the tenth, and on the eleventh passed on toward Decatur. During the day, Foster's cavalry was sent to Lake Station, on the Southern railroad, where they destroyed three steam-mills, two locomotives, thirty-five cars, depot, and machine-shop.

We encamped at Decatur, a dilapidated old town, on the night of the twelfth, and destroyed a large tannery. While the supply-train of the Sixteenth corps was passing through the place, Jackson's cavalry made a dash at it, and killed twenty-four mules, when a regiment of infantry came up and sent them howling to the woods, with a loss of several horses, and one man killed and one wounded. During the march of the thirteenth, they made a similar attempt upon the train of the Seventeenth corps, but were driven off before any damage was done.

On the fourteenth, we received word from the rebels that they would make a determined stand at “Summit Hill,” a few miles in advance, and we began to look for a fight; but when we reached that point, we found a board nailed to a tree, upon which was written, in frightfully unmistakable characters: “13 miles to Hell!” But it proved to be a migratory locality, as we never discovered it, unless the fellow meant Meridian, which we reached on the morning of the fifteenth, having marched one hundred and sixty miles in eleven days, with a desperate foe hovering upon our front, flank, and rear, during nearly every hour of the march.

Before we reached Meridian, General Force was sent to Chunky Station to destroy depot warehouses and a large amount of trestle-work, which he accomplished. He was attacked by Lee's cavalry, but soon put them to flight with severe loss. General Force captured and destroyed his train of seven wagons, all he had with him. Our loss was three men wounded, in the Forty-fifth Illinois infantry.

Meridian was a town made up of supply and railroad depots, storehouses, hospitals, officers' quarters, etc., all of which were burned. A large amount of shelled corn, salt, sugar, meal, bacon, and beef was found, which we either consumed or destroyed.

Detachments of the army went toward Mobile, Selma, and Columbus, Mississippi, and destroyed the track, trestle-work, bridges, and depots in all directions from Meridian. At Enterprise, a large amount of public stores, and several large supply depots and hospital buildings were destroyed. At Meridian, we found a large arms manufactory in successful operation, and it, with a large number of guns, was consumed by fire.

The army marched, on the twentieth, for Canton, coming on a route north of the one going out; arrived at Canton on the twenty-sixth, where it remained several days. Colonel Winslow had a severe skirmish with Adams's forces on the twenty-seventh, and on the twenty-ninth the same rebel force attacked and captured a forage-train of sixteen wagons, sent out by the Sixteenth corps. At Canton, twenty-one locomotives were captured and destroyed, together with a large number of cars and other public property. When we reached this point, we heard a great many rumors from General Smith's cavalry force, in most of which they claimed to have defeated Smith and driven him back.

General Sherman left his command at Canton, and came on with an escort to this place. The troops moved from there yesterday, and will be here in a day or two.

Some of the fruits of the expedition are the destruction of three hundred miles of railroad, cutting off all means of transportation this side of the Tombigbee, burning thirty mills, three thousand bales of confederate cotton, destroying twenty-five locomotives, one hundred cars, the capture of about five hundred prisoners, and between ten thousand and fifteen thousand negroes, who are on their way to this place. Besides this, about three hundred wagons and several thousand horses and mules were taken. The enemy, except a small cavalry force. was driven from the State, and all means of his occupying the country in force cut off.

Our troops subsisted on the country, and found large supplies of corn, etc., for stock, and subsistence for the men. Every thing was taken [477] but what was actually necessary for the subsistence of families residing on the line of march. A great deal of property was destroyed and many houses burned in all the towns we passed through — some of them unnecessarily perhaps, but it is accounted for by the fact that we did not enter a town, except Canton, from which we were not fired upon.

From Jackson to Meridian there is nothing but a succession of pine barrens and almost interminable swamps, across which the pioneer corps, under the direction of Captain Hickenlooper, constructed many miles of corduroy road before the trains could pass over.

I have not time nor space to relate incidents of the trip, but a report made to General Polk by a citizen scout whom he had sent out to ascertain our numbers, intentions, destination, etc., should not be lost. He had probably seen our wagon train, which required five hours to pass a given point, and became frightened at it, as his official report will show. It was that “there were precisely one hundred and fifty thousand Yanks, and that they were coming like damnation!--that each one had a label on the front of his hat, on which was the inscription, in large letters, ‘Moblle or hell!’ ” About this time our cavalry entered the town, and the General mounted his horse and skedaddled. This was related to me. by citizens, and is not a romance.



Another account.

Sixteenth Iowa Volunteer infantry, Canton, Mississippi, February 29, 1864.
Mr. Editor: General Sherman having taken the job of “cleaning out” Mississippi, we have “gone and done it,” making a clear track from Vicksburgh to Demopolis, and are this far on our return, stopping a few days here to finish up a few little jobs, such as destroying twenty-three locomotives, a number of freight and passengercars, gather in a few thousand head of horses and mules, destroy a few miles of railroad, etc.

But to the expedition: we shall not attempt to give you all the particulars, nor half the important results of this expedition; but simply attempt to interest you by a narration of such incidents as may have transpired within our own observation, leaving the particulars and more important parts to those whose business it is to note these, and whose opportunities for knowing what has been accomplished are better than ours, a non-combatant in the rear of a regiment. On the evening of the second, we received marching orders, and at eight o'clock next morning were on the road. The expedition consisted of the Sixteenth army corps, and the Third and Fourth, and the Iowa brigade of the First division of the Seventeenth army corps, the whole estimated at about thirty thousand strong. The train consisted of about one thousand wagons, beside a large number of corps ambulances; you can perhaps imagine the majestic appearance of such an immense body of men and animals and wagons in motion; but to realize the scene requires a personal observation, obtained only by standing a whole day in one place and seeing it pass. Our first day's march was not marked by any incidents of importance, save the excitement and commotion of getting fairly under way. We arrived at Black River about sunset, and encamped on the west side. The country from Vicksburgh to Black River is very rough, and the whole, as far as can be seen from the road, is one continued scene of desolation — deserted plantations, blackened chimneys, and fenceless fields, tell of the gloomy past. On the morning of the fourth we were again on the march at eight o'clock, passed safely over Black River on a pontoon-bridge, (small “flat-boats” laid side by side, fastened with ropes on each side of the river, and planked over.) A short distance on the east side of the river we passed through the battle-field of last summer; large trees cut entirely off, others split and shattered and scarred, tell of the terrible missiles which laid many a brave soldier wounded and lifeless upon the bloody field. We travelled slowly all day, and the same scene of desolation presented the day before was again witnessed to-day; in the evening we passed the place near Champion Hills where the rebels burned our wagon train last summer; a portion of the wreck still remains. At Champion Hills our front had a severe skirmish with the rebel cavalry; a number of both armies were killed and taken prisoners, but how many I have not learned, and do not expect to until I see it in Northern papers. We passed the battle-field of Champion Hills in the night, so we did not get to see that historical ground. About eleven o'clock at night we went into camp three miles west of Clinton, the “boys” in fine spirits, singing and laughing during the tedious night march as gayly as though they were approaching home, anticipating sweet repose on “downy pillows” instead of “grassy couches.” The next morning we were awakened by heavy firing in front, and on looking round found marked evidences of there having been considerable fighting yesterday at the place where we were encamped; the rebs had made rail stockades, (rails built up in the form of a very acute fence-corner,) several horses lay dead and wounded, and some pieces of “grayback” uniforms lay around loose. The firing continued sharper and fiercer while we took breakfast and prepared to advance, but by the time we got started the reports were fewer and farther off. It was amusing to hear the talk among the boys as they listened to the booming of cannon and cracks of musketry; remarks like the following could be heard: “Them fellows in front are getting their veteran bounty.” “Yes, in hard money, too; don't you hear them plank it down on the table?” After breakfast we moved forward, and within about a mile and a half from our place of encampment came to the place where our front had been engaged. The first thing I observed was a cap, half of which was torn off. I presumed some boy had torn it up and thrown it away; but a few steps brought me to the place where its former wearer lay, the front and top of his head blown entirely off, and [478] by his side lay his comrade, his head entirely gone — both killed, I afterward learned, by the explosion of a shell from a rebel field-piece. They were laid side by side preparatory to burial, and near them a leg which had been amputated on the field, a little further on the spot where the catastrophe occurred, was plainly shown; it was by the side of a large gate which opened into a field by the roadside; the boards were bespattered with brains and blood, and pools of blood and pieces of skull lay on the ground. It was indeed a sad, sickening sight. A little further on, several dead rebels lay in the woods; dead and wounded horses lay by the roadside. We do not know how many were killed and wounded here; all we could see were those near the road--five rebels and two Union soldiers. One of the rebels, when shot, had five fine hams of meat tied on his horse before him; being shot through the abdomen, our boys, after an examination, concluded they would not try the quality of the meat, not relishing the rebel blood with which it was covered.

Our portion of the army passed on as if nothing had occurred, arriving at Clinton about noon. Clinton is ut present a very dilapidated-looking place, being visited once before and partially destroyed by our army. There is a Female Seminary there, a very fine building, but we judge poorly patronized these times. The country around is hilly, the soil red clay mixed with sand. Our brigade did not halt in Clinton, but passed on perhaps one half-mile, and halted opposite a grave-yard, where we nooned. While lying here the fighting in front became more severe. A number of wounded were brought back to Clinton, and several dead buried in the graveyard where we lay. One poor boy of the Seventeenth Illinois was struck with a piece of shell on the neck, killing him instantly, though the skin was not broken. He stood but a short distance from us looking at the skirmishers in front. He was but a lad, a new recruit, and this his first and last campaign. Several balls and shells passed over us, one striking a soldier on the thigh, standing on the railroad track, a short distance on our left. About three o'clock P. M., we again started, the skirmishing in front still continuing, but the firing gradually getting farther off and less frequent, the rebels falling back. This continued until ten o'clock at night, when we went into camp (or rather bivouacked, as we had no tents) one mile west of Jackson.

The country we passed through that day was much better than heretofore, fine oak timber and well watered. After passing Clinton, the plantations were much larger and better (or rather had been) but they are now houseless and fenceless. We saw none of the killed and wounded of that day except those brought back to the graveyard, as the fighting was off the road; there was, however, quite a number on both sides. I understood from the Medical Director of our corps that we had forty-five wounded at Clinton. We came across the body of a rebel soldier near the graveyard, which they had commenced burying, but we pushed them so closely that they left, having only put a few shovelfuls of dirt on him.

The train was delayed from some cause during the day, and did not get up that night; consequently the officers had no blankets, it being quite cold. It was really amusing to see them shiver around their camp-fires the livelong night, some trying to go to sleep, others to keep awake, and all in not a very amiable mood toward any one, but especially quartermasters, wagonmasters, and teamsters.

On the sixth, we remained in camp until noon, waiting for other troops to pass. Near Jackson, we halted before a most beautiful mansion, surrounded in a delightful manner with landscape garden, evergreens and forest trees; quite a variety of flowers were in full bloom. The rebels made a stand near this the day before; our cavalry made a charge upon them, capturing a very fine field-piece, all complete, with ten rounds of shell and eight horses. Several were killed in the charge. At two o'clock we entered Jackson, the capital of Mississippi which in its day was a very pretty place, but before we left, it was almost a mass of smoking ruins. The Iowa brigade being sent in advance to guard the pioneer corps while constructing a pontoon across Pearl River, we entered the town with bands playing and colors floating in the breeze. It was truly a vivid picture of war to see the streets filled with armed men, squares of large brick buildings on fire, furniture of every description, from rocking-cradles to pianos, clothing, books, in fact almost every article of domestic utility and ornament, piled upon the sidewalks. Women and children running hither and thither, pictures of the most abject despair. There was no protection given the town, and but little mercy shown, as this was the third time our army had been compelled to come here, and we judge General Sherman rightly concluded that he would obviate all necessity of having to come again. We marched to the lower part of the town, and halted near the river, where the pioneers were at work. The rebels having repaired this road — N. O. I. and Grenada road — were busily engaged constructing means for getting their rolling stock over the river, and we came upon them so suddenly, that they left all their flatboats and lumber for our use, which we of course appropriated, and in a few hours were ready to cross. After halting and stacking arms, I do not think it was ten minutes before the boys had torn down several frame houses for fuel. Weatherboards make fine fuel, and I think a regiment or two of soldiers can appropriate the boards off a two-story house about as quick as up North they would gather a basket of chips. We had an opportunity of conversing with several citizens here, mostly ladies, and although they are driven to the greatest straits for the simple necessaries of life — flour two dollars per pound, sugar four dollars per pound, calico ten to twelve dollars per yard — they are rebels still. Walking along the street, a lady accosted us with: “What brought you all back here again?” “Well,” we replied, “it has been about a year since we [479] were here last, and we thought we would come and see how your Confederacy flourished.” “We didn't want you to come,” she replied; “but if you are here, what do you burn all our houses for.” “Why,” we answered, “this is the third time we have had to come here, and the fact of the matter is, it wears out so much shoe-leather walking over these sandy roads, that we concluded to finish the job this time.” “Well, sir, you will have to kill the women too; for, after you have killed all our men, us women will fight you.” “If that be the case,” we answered, “I presume we might as well commence now as any time, but as I don't like to commence on as good a looking lady as you, I will go back to the regiment and send the ugliest man we have to undertake the job.” We started off accompanied by a flash from her eyes almost as vivid as the angry flames bursting from the, windows of the burning houses near by.

We stopped in a house near where we were encamped, and found a lady with four small children, from Selma, Alabama. She had got this far on her way to Vicksburgh, but could go no farther, as they would not take her from Jackson to Vicksburgh for less than five hundred dollars, a sum which she could by no means obtain; so here she was with her little children and nothing to eat, not even corn-meal. One of the boys came and ground some coffee on her coffee-mill and gave her a millful for the accommodation. She seemed very thankful, and said it was the first she had got since the war commenced; that in Selma coffee was ten dollars per pound. She told a sad tale of the state of affairs in Alabama. Some of her friends and nearest neighors had been hunted down by dogs, and one of them was literally torn to pieces; provisions were at starvation prices, and the whole country under a military despotism.

The State House is a very fine building. It, I believe, was the only good building that was not burned. The boys “captured” turkeys, geese, pigs, chickens, calves, etc., in sufficient quantities to give them at least one good meal; also, tobacco enough to do them through a month's campaign. Some of the citizens were very anxious that we should occupy and protect the city, for the question, “Where will we get any thing to live upon after you all leave?” was a very important one, vividly suggested to every reasoning mind: but as they made their bed, so must they lie.

In the evening we crossed Pearl River and encamped in a low, wet bottom, about a mile east of Jackson; the light from which, illuminated the heavens during the night.

The country around Jackson is quite good, and previous to rebellion was cultivated. There is still some farming going on, although work seemed to be suspended in honor of our arrival, (or perhaps more from fear of having their teams confiscated.) We noticed that considerable fence had been made recently, and some ground already ploughed for spring-planting. Many of the farmers stood at the gate with buckets and tubs of water to give the boys a drink as they passed along — very kind in them — but a dodge, which did not, as they intended, save the contents of their hen and smoke-houses from being “appropriated” to the use of the “inevitable soldier,” who seems to have an irrepressible longing for fat poultry and nicely-smoked hams. We found some rebel “hard tack” on the road, and we judge they too would require something oily to help it down; it is hard tack to all intents and purposes, made of unbolted flour and cornmeal.

On the morning of the seventh, we commenced march at eight o'clock The road having at one time been graded for a plank-road, was very fine, and we advanced rapidly, our brigade being in front. We arrived at Brandon, the county-seat of Rankin County, about noon, without seeing or hearing any thing of the enemy. Our regiment was stationed in town as provost-guards, which gave us an opportunity of looking around. We were quartered in a grove surrounding a large brick building, used as a church below and a seminary above.

Before I had dismounted, I was somewhat amused and a little sorry for a venerable-looking Southern gentleman, who came riding with great dignity into our camp, on a very fine horse. He had scarcely got into the yard when three cavalrymen rode up to him and demanded his horse; he refused at first, but finally succumbed, dismounted, and one of the soldiers got off an old, poor, jaded-looking animal, handed the venerable gentleman the reins, mounted the old fellow's blooded steed, and all three rode off in a hurry. Seeing the old gentleman looking rather distressed, I rode up and asked: “What's the matter, neighbor?” “Why, sir,” he answered, “I am the Mayor of the town; I came here in search of General McPherson, to make some arrangement by which we could be protected, and they have taken my horse from me!” “Bad enough!” we replied; “these Yankees are terrible fellows, and you had better watch very closely, or they will steal your town before morning.”

As he turned and rode away on his poor, old, worn-out cavalry-horse, looking like the personification of grief, seated on a very badly-carved monument of the equine race, we thought it about the best instance of stealing a horse and selling a mare (mayor) on record, and was worthy of being kept among the archives of the Southern Confederacy.

Brandon is a very pretty little town of some eight hundred inhabitants, and has some very pretty residences and a fine court-house, and before we came there it had some fine brick blocks, railroad depots, etc., which are now non est. Every thing, however, looks neglected. Remarking this to a citizen, he said they had been unable to get nails for two years past, and could repair nothing. There seems to have been considerable wealth and quite as much aristocracy here in former days, both of which are rapidly declining. [480]

Private residences were protected by provostguards, but all public buildings were burned. The inhabitants seemed to expect nothing but that we would burn the town; they, however, soon became acquainted with us, and invited the officers to their houses to remain during our stay; gave them the best feather-beds in their houses, and treated them with genuine Southern hospitality; we judge, however, it was for self-protection rather than for any love they felt for “Lincoln's vandals.” However, it was all the same to those who enjoyed the luxury of sleeping with their pants off, between clean sheets. As for ourselves, we got cheated out of our “soft snap,” by one of our boys — a new recruit — shooting himself through the hand, so As to require the amputation of a finger, late in the evening, and it was too late, after we had him cured, for to “come in” on any of the applications for “officers to spend the night with them.” We, however, took breakfast with a very nice family, had a very pleasant hour's chat, so much so, that we really forgot we were among enemies. The breakfast was not any thing extra, except extra bad butter and corn-bread, and a fair article of extra wheat coffee; but they treated us so kindly, and talked so sensibly about the war, and wished so heartily for peace, that we were almost persuaded they were not “secesh;” but if we were to believe all the citizens tell us, we would conclude no person ever desired a separation of the Union, and that they really thought Yankee soldiers were much greater gentlemen, more intelligent, and better men than their own “brave boys,” and that there was no use in their trying to cope with so formidable a foe; all of which is, of course, true, but they don't believe a word of it.

A great many negroes joined us here, and many more were desirous of coming, but had no means of taking their families. We were much amused as we entered town, by a lady rushing out of agate, and accosting an officer riding by, with: “Captain, is there no means by which I can get my boy back? He is going off with your army?” The officer replied: “Well, madam, I know of no. law nowadays, civil or military, by which you can get him.” At this she curled up her lip and contracted her nose, as if there were some very unpleasant odor in the atmosphere, and in a tone of the most utter contempt, she remarked, “Yes, Yes, Abe Lincoln, Abe Lincoln!” turned upon her heels, and swung her hoopless skirt back through the gate in the highest dudgeon imaginable.

The boys having “reenforced” their stock of tobacco, the quartermasters having filled their wagons with corn-meal, bacon, etc., and added very materially to their stock of horses and mules, the medical department having got a small assortment of drugs, all at the expense of the Southern Confederacy, arid the military authorities having destroyed all public property, and last, but not least, having driven the rebels from here, on the morning of the eighth, we again moved forward. As we were passing out of town, our guards being removed and others not yet stationed, the negroes and soldiers broke into the stores, and it was interesting to see the manner in which they appropriated the various articles of merchandise. True, there was but little to appropriate, but what there was was soon appropriated. In one store there was a lot of cotton cloth, and it was interesting to see the darkeys haul it into their arms, as a sailor takes in a line, until they had an armful, tear it off, and another take hold and haul it in, until he too had an armful, and so on, until the stock was exhausted.

We proceeded, without interruption, through a tolerably fair country; large plantations, with the dead trees yet standing, houses comfortably framed, without much pretensions to beauty or grandeur, burned several fine lots of cotton, and tore up more railroad than the Confederacy will repair this season.

At ten o'clock P. M., we bivouacked in a beautiful pine grove; the pines were perfectly straight, and perhaps one hundred feet to the first limbs. Here we learned that the rebels had formed a line of battle near our place of encampment some time during the day, and attempted to engage our front, but were quickly repulsed. During the engagement, a woman living near by — while gratifying her innate curiosity by watching the fight — was accidentally shot in her own dooryard; her husband was in the rebel army, and she left four children, the eldest only fourteen years of age.

On the morning of the ninth, we started at eight o'clock, proceeded until one o'clock, when we arrived at Morton station, where we encamped to allow General Hurlbut's corps to pass.

Morton is a very small place, and consists of a few indifferent dwellings, railroad buildings, and one or two stores; while lying here, we burned the railroad building and a drug store, and destroyed the track for quite a distance.

But here come orders to march to-morrow morning; so I will stop for the present, and mail this at Vicksburgh, where we expect to arrive in four days, and finish my story when we get settled once more in camp.



New-York Tribune accounts.

Vicksburgh, Miss., Feb. 28, 1864.
Considerable commotion exists in this obnoxious town to-day, occasioned by the sudden and unexpected appearance of the veteran hero, Major-General W. T. Sherman. The daring Yankee expedition into the interior of this rebel domain, Mississippi, has returned in triumph, accomplishing its important objects with but little loss of life. The entree of General Sherman at an early hour this forenoon, covered with dust, and accompanied by three or four staff-officers and two mounted orderlies, created a great sensation among the secesh, with whom it had been currently reported that a rebel bullet had laid him low.

On the morning of February third, General Sherman, with a force of twenty-five thousand men, marched from Big Black River. General [481] Sherman and General Hurlbut's division crossed at Messenger's Ferry, five miles above the line of the Southern Railroad, and General McPherson's division at the railroad-crossing. After the entire army had crossed safely, orders were at once given to push on to Bolton, a small station at the Raymond Junction, on the Southern Railroad, some fifteen miles from the Big Black River. At this point our advance had a lively skirmish with the enemy, resulting in the killing of twelve men, and the wounding of thirty-five. The rebel loss was much larger, a number of their dead being left on the field. General McPherson's infantry forces marched up rapidly, and dispersed Lee's cavalry, estimated at six thousand men, without any serious encounter. With his usual energy, General McPherson continued to press them closely, and so hotly were the retreating rebels pursued, that, four miles east of Bolton, Acting Brigadier-General Winslow, formerly a Colonel of the Fourth Iowa cavalry, succeeded in flanking them with a force of one thousand four hundred cavalry. The capture of the whole force seemed inevitable at this juncture, but the main body escaped, and only a few prisoners were taken.

Without much opposition, the entire army marched rapidly toward Jackson, Lee's rebel cavalry fleeing in the greatest disorder in the direction of Canton, a flourishing little town twenty miles north of Jackson. Here Acting Brigadier-General Winslow's cavalry closed in upon the rebel columns, capturing a large number of prisoners and one piece of artillery, a ten-pounder Parrott gun, together with a caisson stocked with ammunition, which was subsequently used with good effect upon the enemy's lines. The prisoners taken belonged to Mississippi and Georgia cavalry regiments, with a few mounted infantrymen. Jackson was reached on the evening of February fifth, and General McPherson at once ordered the gallant Tenth Missouri cavalry regiment to secure the rebel pontoon-bridge across Pearl River. General French, the rebel officer, had crossed this bridge but a few moments in advance of our cavalry, and a large gang of rebels were busily engaged in destroying it, when the sudden appearance of the brave and determined Missourians caused them to beat a precipitate retreat. A number of their men embraced this favorable opportunity to desert to our lines, telling us doleful stories of the demoralization of the so-called confederates. The bridge was saved, and the next day our troops found this rebel pontoon-bridge convenient for crossing Pearl River. General Sherman ordered the advance to proceed to Brandon, some twelve miles distant, arriving there Sunday noon, meeting with but slight resistance on their march.

At Jackson, some twenty buildings were destroyed by the slaves, in retaliation for the inhuman cruelties perpetrated upon them by their rebel masters. At Brandon, similar scenes were witnessed, and the outraged bondmen and bond-women revenged the brutality of those they once were compelled to call masters.

From Brandon the expedition moved on to Morton, a small village depot on the Southern Railroad, where the depot and outbuildings were speedily consumed by fire. Only a few buildings were burned at Brandon by the troops, the socalled confederate government not occupying many. There was, however, every evidence that Brandon was shortly to be a supply-depot of considerable importance, large quantities of stores having been removed at the news of our approach.

General Loring, with his demoralized army, crossed Pearl River on the fifth of February, at Madison Crossing, and formed a junction with General French; the two forces amounting to one thousand five hundred men. General Sherman felt quite confident the enemy would make a stand at this strong position, but our scouts soon brought the amusing intelligence that the rebels were in full retreat on the Hillsboro road. The cause of this change of base, we learned from a deserter who entered our lines, was the supposition that General Sherman was endeavoring to flank them via the line of the Southern Railroad. Colonel Winslow, commanding a brigade of cavalry, consisting of the Fourth Iowa, Sixth Wisconsin, Tenth Missouri, and Eleventh Illinois, chased the enemy to Meridian, capturing and killing quite a number. Our cavalry occupied the town on February fourteenth, and remained there seven days, destroying the State arsenal, which was filled with damaged fire-arms and immense quantities of ammunition of all kinds, together with a large supply of copper and lead.

The Ragsdale and Burton Hotels were destroyed, after the furniture had been removed, it being the intention of General Sherman to destroy nothing except that which might be used by the rebel government. The State arsenal was stocked with valuable machinery for the manufacture and repair of small-arms, and all sorts of ordnance stores, the destruction of which will prove a serious blow to the enemy. Twelve extensive government sheds, a large building called the Soldier's Home, and a number of hospitals and ware-houses, filled with miscellaneous military stores, were set on fire and totally destroyed. Two large grist-mills were likewise burned, after our army had ground a sufficient supply of corn-meal. Twenty thousand bushels of corn fell into our hands, and was speedily converted into corncakes for the hungry soldiers. Nearly every building in Meridian was destroyed, save those which were occupied, and the smoking ruins, with their blackened walls and chimneys standing as giant sentinels over the sorrowful scene, sent a thrill of pity to the hearts of those whom stern war and military necessity compelled to apply the torch.

It was part of the military programme for General Smith's cavalry expedition, which left Memphis, Tennessee, to operate in conjunction with General Sherman's forces, and to unite at Meridian; and it was the failure of this portion of the plan that induced General Sherman to remain seven days in Meridian. General Sherman sent out several scouting-parties as far north as Louisville [482] and Kosciusko, hoping to gain some information of General Smith's whereabout, but was unable to gather any intelligence of his movements.

A number of small expeditions were sent from Meridian in different directions, for the purpose of destroying whatever might benefit the rebellion. Among the places devastated were Enterprise, Marion, Quitman, Hillsboro, Canton, Lake Station, Decatur, Bolton, and Lauderdale Springs. At Enterprise, the depot, two flour-mills, fifteen thousand bushels of corn, two thousand bales of fine cotton, branded C. S.A., two military hospitals, and several new buildings connected with a parole camp were laid in ashes.

At Marion, the railroad station, wood-house, and a few small buildings were burned. Quitman was visited, and two flour-mills, a fine sawmill railroad depot, and other storage buildings, with several thousand feet of lumber, fell a prey to the fire-king. At Hillsboro several stores were set on fire. Seventeen damaged locomotives, six locomotives in fine running order, a number of cars, and a repair-shop, with hand-cars, quantities of sleepers, and tool-house, were destroyed at Canton — all belonging to the Mississippi Central Railroad. No private property was molested or injured at Canton, the inhabitants never having fired upon our troops. Beyond the depletion of a few unguarded hen-roosts, very little depredation was committed. One rampant female secesh discovered a vile Yankee surreptitiously purloining a pair of fat chickens. Terribly incensed at this wanton robbery and gross violation of the rights of personal property, she made a bold onslaught; but I regret to say that all her expostulations failed to convince the demoralized and hungry “mudsill” that he was sinning, for he replied: “Madam! this accursed rebellion must be crushed, if it takes every chicken in Mississippi.” The door was slammed to with violence, and the enraged feminine retired, disgusted with “Yankee” habits, to mourn over the loss of her plump pair of chickens.

Our troops raised sad havoc with the Mobile and Ohio, and the Southern Railroad lines, inflicting such damage as a million dollars cannot repair. The Southern road was torn up, rails twisted, and sleepers burnt, from Jackson to twenty miles east of Meridian to Cuba Station. The Mobile and Ohio road was destroyed for fifty-six miles, extending from Quitman to Lauderdale Springs. Five costly bridges were totally destroyed. The one spanning the Chickasawhay River was two hundred and ten feet long, with trestle-work, which required four months hard labor of hundreds of mechanics to construct it. It was a substantial covered bridge. The bridges over Octchibacah, Alligator, Tallasha, and Chunky Rivers were also burned. On the eleventh, Captain Foster, of the Tenth Missouri cavalry, received instructions to make a raid on Lake Station, seventeen miles from Hillsboro, and to destroy all property available for the rebels. Two livery-stables, several machine-shops, three locomotives, water-tank, turn-table, thirty-five railroad cars, engine-house, two saw-mills, and thousands of dollars' worth of lumber were consumed, spirits of turpentine, from the Signal corps, aiding materially in the rapid destruction of the buildings.

Decatur was entered on the twelfth of February, where some thirty buildings were burned. Decatur is the county-seat of Newton County. The Sixteenth army corps, General Hurlbut, entered Meridian on the fourteenth of February, juts in time to witness the hurried departure of General Baldwin's rebel brigade on a special train for Mobile. A few shells went hissing after the train, but we could not learn of any damage resulting from them.

About two miles east of Decatur, a party of forty or fifty rebels attacked one of our trains, killing seventeen mules. The guard repulsed them, killing five, and capturing three. None of our men were injured. General Sherman, with two of his staff, was in a perilous condition at this time, and it was feared the entire party would be surrounded by the guerrillas. They escaped, however, and joined their command, some four miles distant, without molestation.

General Crocker, commanding the Fourth division, Seventeenth army corps, deserves great credit for the effectual manner in which he destroyed Enterprise and other places, and for the discipline he maintained among his troops, preventing lawlessness or pillage on private property.

It is impossible to state with any degree of accuracy the exact loss of either army, no reports having been made up to the present time. Staff-officers estimate that our loss in killed and wounded will not exceed fifty men, with about one hundred captured. The captured men were taken to Mobile. The rebel loss in killed and wounded is much greater, their loss by desertion and capture being estimated at over six hundred. Among the prisoners are Lieutenant Tomlinson, of the rebel Brigadier-General Ferguson's staff and Lieutenant Winn, the rebel conscription officer at Jackson. The deserters who flocked to our lines in squads report a universal feeling of dissatisfaction in Bishop Polk's army, and the renegade Bishop has publicly proclaimed his inability to restrain his men from insubordination and desertion.

The Mobile and Ohio road, which was so thoroughly destroyed, was considered by engineers to be the finest-built road in the United States, costing fifty thousand dollars per mile. It was built principally by English capitalists; and George Peabody, the London banker, owned several thousand shares. The destruction of this road will prevent the rebels from reenforcing Mobile by rail, and effectually cuts off the fertile region of country in Northern Mississippi from which the rebels derived immense subsistence supplies. The weather was most propitious for such a bold movement, and notwithstanding the female secessionists prayed loud and long for rain as soon as they heard of our troops crossing the Big Black, yet the elements failed to wage a war against this justifiable crusade into the vitals of [483] the enemy's country. Such a strong influence has General Sherman over his brave men that but very little straggling was observable, although the expedition marched over four hundred miles in twenty-four days.

Ten thousand slaves were liberated from cruel bondage, and a full brigade of athletic colored troops will immediately be organized. The slaves form a most mournful curiosity, with their lacerated rated backs, branded faces, and ragged garments. Such a heterogeneous collection of humanity was perhaps never before gathered together. They embrace both sexes, of every shade of complexion, and vary in age from one month to one hundred years. The simple tales of horror which these injured people narrate are sufficient to chill the blood of the most stoical. Coosa River is the present rebel line of defence, and it is reported that they are strongly intrenched on the east bank of the river. The Seventeenth army corps lost about eight men killed, and thirty-two wounded.



The Second account.

Vicksburgh, Miss., March 4, 1864.
The late expedition of General Sherman from this point, having so largely filled the public mind North, and, so far as the journals which have reached here indicate, been so utterly and totally misconceived, it may be judicious, perhaps, to state clearly what was the object of the undertaking, and how large a measure of success attended it.

It appears to suit the purposes of the military authorities here, and the telegraph has doubtless advised you there, that the expedition has met with the most satisfactory, and complete attainment of its purposes — has, in fact, accomplished all, and more than all, which it proposed to do upon setting out.

While granting the immense importance of its results, in some respects beyond what could have reasonably been expected of it, I am, nevertheless, compelled to deny that it has achieved that complete success which General Sherman and those associated with him are disposed to claim for it. I am certainly correct in stating that the ultimate destination was Selma, Alabama, where the rebels have a very important, if not their principal ordnance depot, manufactory of ammunition nition and army clothing, beside a large accumulation lation of commissary stores, etc. They have also, as I learn from a perfectly trustworthy source, four iron-clad gunboats building at this point. It was expected that the cavalry force under Smith, which left Memphis about the same time that Sherman's troops left Vicksburgh, would form a junction with the latter at Meridian. This they failed to do, and hence that part of the plan which embraced the taking of Selma was abandoned. For the correctness of my statement in this matter, I venture to predict that you will have corroborative evidence as soon as Smith's cavalry return to Memphis, in their admitted failure to unite with Sherman, as they expected.

While, therefore, denying to the General that completeness in his late achievement which he claims, I am not by any means disposed to dispute with him, nor belittle the magnificent results which he has actually effected. These results, moreover, I am inclined to believe will become come more appreciated when other movements shall have rendered their value, in a military sense, more thoroughly understood. Presuming that your other correspondents have given you already the details of the advance of the army to Meridian, and its return, I shall not undertake to narrate in a consecutive form the incidents of the expedition, but rather seek to supply such as in my opinion will more clearly picture to your readers the results which have been attained.

But little fighting took place during the entire march, the most important being some tolerably heavy skirmishing which occurred in the vicinity of Clinton, this side of Jackson, as the expedition was starting out, the small squads of the enemy, wherever seen, prudently withdrawing upon our artillery being brought into position. Large quantities of cotton were found and destroyed while on our way out, some baled and some not yet ginned. Both cotton and gins were placed beyond the reach of affording temptation to cotton speculators of questionable loyalty. On our return, little, however, was molested. As a general thing, in the region of country passed over, the large planters had abandoned the growth of that former sovereign staple under the prohibitory enactment of the rebel Congress two years ago. Corn, however, was in abundance, and such corn as would make the heart of a man glad. The cribs of this entire section were bursting with fatness, though our army left those in its immediate wake about as effectually depleted as Howell Cobb did the national treasury when he retired from its management, at the close of Mr. Buchanan's administration.

At Decatur a large tan-yard and a very considerable lot of cotton were destroyed, the town itself sharing the same fate. Our boys were guided ed to a quantity of cotton hidden in an obscure locality, near this place, by some negroes acquainted with the fact, and indeed everywhere the blacks testified unmixed delight at our approach, frequently meeting us with their wives and children “toting” their little all alone with them, and apparently fully satisfied of the advent of the “day of jubilo.” Repeatedly were our men advised of the hiding-places of hoards of bacon, pork, ham, stock, carriages, etc., the movements of the rebel military and the whereabouts of citizens fighting in the rebel army. It is in vain that the people have sought to inspire them with aversion and terror of our Northern, especially Yankee soldiers. They know better, and in spite of the habit of years, to obey and believe their masters, they will not credit what they say, but preferring to cut loose for ever from the associations of youth and all of home they know, throw themselves selves upon the uncertain issue of their new condition with a faith that is sublime.

From five thousand to seven thousand of these people accompanied the triumphal return of Sherman's expedition, and I defy any human being [484] with as much feeling in his bosom as even Legree in Mrs. Stowe's immortal story, to look on such a scene unmoved. Old men with the frosts of ninety years upon their heads, men in the prime of manhood, youth, and children that could barely run, women with their babies at their breasts, girls with the blood of proud Southern masters in their veins, old women, tottering feebly along, leading from a land of incest and bondage, possessing horrors worse than death, children and grandchildren, dear to them as our own sons and daughters are to us. They came, many of them, it is true, with shout and careless laughter, but silent tears coursed down many a cheek — tears of thankfulness for their great deliverance, and there were faces in that crowd which shone with a joy which caused them to look almost inspired. Those may smile who will, but the story of the coming up of the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt can never call up to my mind a more profound emotion that the remembrance of that scene. The carnival at Rome, with the fantastic costumes of the populace, presents nothing more varied and promiscuous than did the attire of this interesting assemblage.

When I looked upon the long lane filing in through roads along which our slaughtered brothers He buried thicker than sheaves in a harvest-field, and reflected on the horrors to which this race had been subjected by the foes whom we are fighting, I felt faith in a God of justice renewed in my heart, and hope in the success of our cause rekindle to a brighter flame.

At Canton, which our army visited but did not burn, we succeeded in capturing and destroying seventeen locomotives. Another was also destroyed at Meridian, making eighteen in all, inflicting a loss on the confederates which is of incalculable value. It is a fact perhaps known, but will bear repeating here, that Grierson's raid last year through this State damaged the railroad some forty miles north of Okolona to such an extent, that they have never repaired nor under-taken to operate it above that point. I learn from an engineer who has been forced for two years past to run a locomotive over their roads, and who was enabled to get to our lines during the late raid, that ten miles per hour is and has been for months the maximum speed attainable by their trains. The destruction by Grierson of passenger-cars a year ago has never been made good on the roads, and left them almost destitute of cars, even before Sherman came in now to give their Mississippi railroads this coup de grace. It is no news to state that the confederates were put to their wits' end to keep up the ordinary wear and tear of their roads for the past year; it will therefore be the more fully apparent how immensely important a work has been accomplished by Sherman. Advancing to within twenty-five miles of Meridian, he sent detachments ten or fifteen miles beyond that point, and thirty or forty north and south to tear up the track, destroy culverts, burn the depots, bridges, and ties, and render useless, by bending, the trails of the several roads diverging from that important railroad-centre. This was done, and done effectually; so effectually, indeed, as to place it out of the power of the rebels to put those roads in operation again during the continuance of the war. This, therefore, as any one familiar with the topography of Mississippi will readily perceive, cuts off the State from any further military occupation by the confederate army, it being impossible longer to manoeuvre or subsist an army there without posession of the river. Cavalry may sweep down or across the State, but with all the strongholds along the Mississippi River, we hold military control of the entire State, effectively and effectually.

When the news was brought in to Sherman, that the rebels had abandoned Meridian without a blow, and that the destruction was un fait accompli, he is said by eye-witnesses to have walked silently to and fro for some minutes, and then burst out excitedly: “This is worth fifty millions to the Government.” The rebels seemed, up almost to the last moment, to have regarded Mobile as the point aimed at, Farragut's bombardment of Fort Powell serving to keep up the impression. I am warranted in saying that Sherman was sanguine of his ability to have taken that city without difficulty, and had the object of his expedition permitted, would have done so. He states unhesitatingly that he felt sorely tempted to do so as it was, and nothing but the fact of its possibly frustrating other important movements already planned prevented his undertaking it.

Being ignorant of the combinations hinted at, it seems to me to be a pity that he did not undertake it, for, from all the information made public, and some received through private sources, it appears that the Mobilians were in the same frame of mind of Captain Scott's coon, Believing their fate fixed to fall into our hands, they were quite ready to permit themselves to be taken, without any very stubborn resistance. At Meridian, the confederate authorities had built or were constructing quite a considerable number of buildings for government use, including machine-shops, quartermaster's and commissary quarters, a hospital, capable of accommodating two thousand five hundred to three thousand patients, etc. These, with the town, were of course destroyed. We also burnt every depot and station alone the line of the railroad, as far as our army reached, the beautiful town of Canton, as before stated, being spared.

At Enterprise, which was sixteen miles below Meridian, and one of the most pestiferous nests that the sun shone on in all the limits of Dixie, we found a camp of paroled prisoners, being part of the old Vicksburgh garrison. These men informed us that the confederate authorities had been forcing many of their number into the army again, telling them they had boon exchanged. At one point on our march, a rebel post-office was captured, containing, among others, a letter from a paroled lieutenant, who had thus been forced to serve, and who, writing home, expressed the opinion that they would be driven into Mobile, [485] and again captured by our army. He expressed extreme despondency at the prospects, fearing the worst possible personal consequences on being recaptured after a violated parole, and being indignant in the extreme at the want of government faith, which had placed him in such a painful predicament.

Enterprise, all and singular with its improvements, public and private, its paroled camp and its conscript camp, with its associations, historic, poetic, and secesh, has been — according to camp parlance — wiped out.

The state of feeling and the condition of the people in the section travelled through are indiscribable. The bitterness which has marked this struggle on the part of the Southern people, can scarcely be said to be lessened. In many cases it is intensified, accompanied by an utter recklessness as to personal consequences, which is often fearful. Many having made immense sacrifices, and who now feel that all is lost, seem to delight in wreaking their fury upon some unfortunate negro soldier falling into their hands, or an occasional white straggler from our army, who is careless enough to be taken. On our return from this expedition, the corpse of an Indiana soldier, who had separated himself from his company, was found with sixteen bullet-holes through his body. As a general thing, however, the sentiment of the people seemed to be one of despondency at the idea of Southern independence, of weariness with the war, and a willingness to return to the Union rather than to continue a hopeless struggle. The rigidity of the conscription is so complete, however, that this feeling can make little impression, or rather produce little result under the present order of things, or, in fact, until the military rule is effectually broken up throughout the Confederacy. The engineer, to whom allusion has already been made in this epistle, informs me that a lieutenant and six men accompanied each train which passed over the railroad on which he run, and no man without a pass could travel a mile. No man could step off at a station without a guard examined his pass, nor could any one get on the train without the same ceremony. No one could pass from one town to another without his papers being in order, and even then they were scrutinized with the greatest carefulness and frequency. He himself was not permitted to cross the Pearl River, at Jackson, and after the news reached there of our movements, three soldiers were placed on the engine and tender to insure his faithfulness in running the train loaded with confederate soldiers, out of the reach of Yankee bullets.

During the entire march, occupying exactly a month, the army was mainly subsisted upon the country it passed through, and the trains had no difficulty in obtaining a sufficiency of forage, without drawing upon that with which they were provided upon leaving Vicksburgh.


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Meridian (Mississippi, United States) (39)
Jackson (Mississippi, United States) (27)
Vicksburg (Mississippi, United States) (21)
Mississippi (Mississippi, United States) (12)
Mobile, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (11)
Decatur (Mississippi, United States) (11)
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Hillsboro (Mississippi, United States) (9)
Clinton (Mississippi, United States) (9)
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