Trail Marker


1721 Front Street, Meridian, MS

Railroads were the heart of Meridian. Although it was a relatively small town at the time of the Civil War, it was the site of a major rail junction that had become important to the Confederacy. The depot, arsenal, stockade, military hospitals, and state offices that sprang up around the tracks made Meridian a tempting target for Union General William T, Sherman. His plan was to cut off this crucial supply line and, if conditions were favorable, continue on to Selma and Mobile, Alabama.

Sherman set out for Meridian in early February, intending to use the town as a meeting place to join his troops with those of Brigadier General William Sooy Smith. Smith, however, ran into trouble in the form of Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest. He never reached Meridian.

While Sherman’s troops spent the week of February 14–20, 1864, waiting for Smith, they destroyed the railroads in all directions around Meridian. Although Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk was successful in saving much of the rolling stock, Confederate losses were substantial. Approximately 115 miles of track, 61 bridges, 20 locomotives, 28 steam cars, and 3 steam sawmills were lost.

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