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[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.

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