February 1864: Sherman’s Meridian Expedition

Sherman Necktie (Museum of Mississippi History Collection)
Sherman Necktie

Union General William T. Sherman left Vicksburg on February 2 and advanced east to Meridian, meeting only token Confederate resistance from Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk’s forces. On February 14, Sherman entered Meridian and destroyed much of the railroad infrastructure in Meridian and the surrounding area. The expedition returned to Vicksburg by way of Canton.

Image:  This “Sherman Necktie” was found in the Pearl River near Jackson.  It was common practice for Sherman’s army to heat and bend railroad tracks so that they could no longer be used.

February 22, 1864: Battle of Okolona

Nathan Bedford Forrest (MDAH Collection)
Nathan Bedford Forrest

As part of Sherman’s Meridian Expedition, Union cavalry under William Sooy Smith moved down the Mobile & Ohio R.R. to West Point, where forces under Nathan Bedford Forrest met Smith’s expedition. After a running cavalry battle through Okolona, Smith retreated to Memphis and was unable to join Sherman in Meridian.

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June 10, 1864: Battle of Brice’s Crossroads

Montgomery Uniform Coat
Montgomery Uniform Coat

With Sherman engaged in the Atlanta Campaign, Union forces were sent to hold Forrest in north Mississippi and keep Confederate cavalry from raiding Sherman’s supply lines in Georgia. One of the resulting expeditions, under Samuel Sturgis, was routed at Brice’s Crossroads by Forrest’s men.

Image:  Uniform coat worn by Colonel Frank A. Montgomery who served in Forrest’s Cavalry.

July 4, 1864: Battle of Coleman’s Crossroads

East of present-day Alcorn State University, two regiments of United States Colored Troops were credited with saving a Union expeditionary force from complete destruction.

July 2-10, 1864: Fourth Occupation of Jackson

Union forces burning Jackson (MDAH Collection)
Union forces burning Jackson

Union forces from Vicksburg under Henry W. Slocum were sent back to Jackson to destroy Confederate railroad facilities.

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July 5-21, 1864: Tupelo Expedition

Stephen D. Lee
Stephen D. Lee

Union General A. J. Smith, sent on another expedition to fight Forrest, defeated both General Stephen D. Lee and Forrest at the battle of Tupelo July 1415.

August 5, 1864: Wilson Brown, African American sailor from Natchez, wins Medal of Honor for service on U.S.S. Hartford in Mobile Bay

August 1-30, 1864: Oxford Expedition

Union General A.J. Smith led an expedition to Oxford from LaGrange, Tenn. During the expedition, Union troops burned much of the town.

November 1864: Abraham Lincoln reelected

November 1864: Union raids Confederate supply lines

Spencer Repeating Rifle, ca. 1860 (Museum of Mississippi History Collection)
Spencer Repeating Rifle, ca. 1860

A number of raids from November to January 1865, including General Davidson’s raid from Baton Rouge to West Pascagoula, General Grierson’s raid down the Mobile & Ohio RR and southwest to Vicksburg, and expeditions to Woodville and Natchez, resulted in further destruction of Confederate resources and infrastructure.

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