Sherman and His Campaigns a Military Biography

By S. M. Bowman; R. B. Irwin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII.
THE MERIDIAN RAID.--A NEW COMMAND.

MCPHERSON'S seventeenth corps was still at Vicksburg: part of Hurlbut's sixteenth corps, with Smith's and Grierson's divisions of cavalry, at Memphis. Lieutenant-General Polk, who commanded the Confederate forces in Mississippi, was at Meridian with French's division, and had Loring's division at Canton; Forrest was, with twenty-five hundred irregular cavalry, in the northern part of the State; Cash's and Whitfield's brigades of cavalry patrolling from Yazoo City, along the Big Black to Port Gibson; and Wirt Adams' brigade doing similar duty in the rear of Port Hudson and Baton Rouge. To the Army of the Tennessee was assigned by General Grant the duty of keeping open the Mississippi River and maintaining intact our control of the east bank. Sherman decided to do this by occupying prominent points in the interior with small corps of observation, threatening a considerable radius; and to operate against any strong force of the enemy seeking to take a position on the river, by a movable column menacing its rear. To destroy the enemy's means of approaching the river with artillery and trains, he determined to organize a large column of infantry and move with it to Meridian, effectually breaking up the Southern Mississippi railway; while a cavalry force should move from Memphis to meet him, and perform the same work with respect to the Mobile and Ohio railway. Brigadier-GeneralWilliam Sovy Smith, chief of cavalry on General Grant's staff, was placed in command of all the cavalry

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