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,
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 3 .-attack on the defences of Mobile .
Surrender of Fort Powell .
Battle of Olustee .
Battle of Pleasant Hill .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.