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[486] commanded by General S. D. Lee; then by the small infantry force at the disposal of the Commanding General. After crossing Pearl River, Lee's cavalry was thrown upon its flanks and rear, and with such success as to prevent all foraging.

The stores in depots of all the railroads between Pearl River and the Tombigbee were sent east, and the whole of the rolling stock of those roads was placed beyond the enemy's reach. This being accomplished, the Commanding General placed the infantry on the east side of the Tombigbee, to defend the crossings, and concentrate the whole of his cavalry on the enemy's second column, from West-Tennessee, which he now moved.

Description by a Southern woman.

Meridian, February 22, 1864.
my dear mother: As one of our neighbors go down to Mobile to-morrow, I will send you a few lines to let you know how we came out in this “terrible raid.” My husband left here at ten o'clock A. M., as guide to General Polk. The Yankees came in at four P. M., in full force. They skirmished a little in our yard, which frightened us very much. The small portion of our servants went away with my husband, so no one remained with me but Violetta, Louisa, Lucinda, my mother-in-law, and three children.

After the skirmishing stopped, the mob ran around, going into the houses, breaking open doors, trunks, locks, etc., tearing up and destroying every thing they could. Caught all the chickens in the place in half an hour. I begged for my things and saved nearly every thing; for while I was talking to the part of the mob who had entered my house, I sent mother off to look up some of the Generals, and to try to get a guard, telling them that I was being run over. General Hurlbut gave us the guard. Only five men entered my house, and demanded my keys. I took some time to get them, showing a great willingness; told them I hoped that they would not take my clothes. They said no; they only wanted all arms and gold and silver I had. I told them they could have all of both which they could find, but I had none. They searched the bureau-drawers and trunks before the guard arrived. One man ran up the stairs and took three sacks of flour, and three or four blankets, and was moving off with them just as the guard came, who made him return the blankets, and pretended to go off for the flour; but that was never returned. The guard staid all night, Sunday, and Monday.

General Leggett and staff came and asked me for all the house-room I could give them. I knew that it was only a demand, and granted it; so that I only occupied two rooms, and mother kept her own room. I did my cooking in one of my rooms; as I had already moved into the house all the cooking utensils, coffee-mill — in fact, even to an ax. I by that means saved them all. I met the General and told him that I, three little children, and an old mother-in-law claimed his protection. He answered: “I will take care of you, madam, as long as I am here.” I said: “I hear that all Meridian is to be burned down; will my house be burned, too?” We then passed a few more words, when I took my children back into my room.

I did not see the General any more till the next day, when I met him in the passage. He was very pleasant. One of his officers asked me where my husband was. I told him that he left on Sunday. He asked if I was a Southerner. I replied: “Yes; a genuine Southerner, as I have never been in a Northern State.” He said: “You take every thing very coolly.” I said: “I try to, but I find it very hard to do, as I am frightened all the time.” He said: “You need not be, as you shall not be disturbed.”

All of the children were questioned very closely, but got on finely. Mary said just what she pleased. Told them she did not, like Yankees. One of the captains told her that if she would only go home with him, she would not be in any more war. She replied: “No; I am a rebel, and I don't want to be with the Yankees.”

Our store was burned to the ground, and so was another one of our new houses. My two milch-cows were killed, and every one in the town; and for eight or ten miles around, all cattle and horses. Our horse was not at home. The printing-office and all the public buildings were burnt up, and Mr. Ragsdale's Hotel, Cullen's, Terrill's, and the Burton House.

All the railroad is torn up, both up and down, for miles, and all the ties burned, and the iron bent and destroyed. Oh! such destruction! I do not believe that you or any one would know the place. There is not a fence in Meridian. I have not one rail left. Some of the ladies about town have but one bed left, and but one or two quilts. Mrs. McElroy (her son is colonel in the rebel army) has not one thing left, except what she and her daughter ran out of the house with on their backs — just one dress. The soldiers told me, when I asked them the reason she was done so, that Mrs. McElroy and daughter had insulted an officer and a private the day her house was burned down. Ragsdale, her son-in-law, brought her here, and asked me to take care of them. I went out in the passage and encountered the General, and told him what Ragsdale had asked of me. He said: “If you do, your house will be burned in an hour, for I cannot prevent it.” So I had to tell them that I could not take them.

I could not write you of every thing, if I were to consume the whole day; but I can tell you that I got on better than any other lady in Meridian, and I will say that the General and officers who staid at my house acted the gentleman to me; but I could not, would not go through what I have again, for all that is in Meridian.

Mrs.----was grossly insulted. Mrs. D. was cursed blue; but you must send her folks down there word that she is still alive. Mr. Taylor, her uncle, has not a second change, nor any of his family. I did not lose a particle of

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