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[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

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