Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, Library of Congress photo

Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, Library of Congress photo

Only in recent years have Civil War historians given the federal raid on Meridian, Mississippi, the attention it deserves.

The raid fascinates me because on February 3, 1864, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman led 23,519 federal troops out of Vicksburg. The bluecoats struck eastward across the width of Mississippi toward the Piney Woods homeland of the Poore family.

The federals headed for the railroad town of Meridian, a major shipping point.

The Poore family was not in the direct path of the Yankee raiders. In late 1863, the family had moved a few miles south of the route Sherman’s troops took. This move spared the family the worst of the destruction from Sherman’s raid.

Sherman waged hard war. Historian Margie Riddle Bearss observed that Sherman’s soldiers left Mississippi “more scourged and desolated than the area he covered in the March to the Sea” through Georgia at the end of 1864.

Sherman decided that “We cannot change the hearts of those people of the South, but we can make war so terrible . . . [and] make them so sick of war that generations would pass away before they would again appeal to it.”

In that he succeeded.

You can learn more at Sherman’s Meridian Campaign: A Practice Run for the March to the Sea.