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1864 March 19: Sherman’s Expedition “has indeed been a success”

March 19, 2014

Following is The Polk County Press weekly summary of the war news from its March 19, 1864, issue.  Our letter writers in the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, Edwin and Homer Levings, have been with General William T. Sherman on his expedition in Mississippi.

The News.

The famous Sherman expedition has returned safe and sound to Vicksburg.  Notwithstanding the columns of strategical writing in some of the journals, in which it was demonstrated that he was bound for Mobile, or Montgomery, or would flank Johnson, and compel him to fall back from Dalton, it turns out that his expedition was simply a grand raid on rebel railroads and supplies, and that his success met the expectations of Gen. GRANT [Ulysses S. Grant], who speaks of the expedition as having given the rebellion the severest blow it has received since the fall of Vicksburg.  The vast destruction of property is admitted by the rebels, although they state that their railroads are rapidly being repaired.  The later statement, however, is absurd.  With the superior facilities possessed by the Union army, such an amount of damage could not be repared [sic] in months.

"How Sherman's Boys Fixed the Railroad," from the Library of Congress

“How Sherman’s Boys Fixed the Railroad,” from the Library of Congress¹

The expedition has indeed been a success.  Besides the damage he inflicted to the railroads, Sherman destroyed forage and provisions enough to subsist the rebel army from three to six months.  In one place he destroyed over two million dollars worth of property, and in other places immense stores, and thousands of bushels of corn and a large quantity of wheat were consumed.  He brought in large droves of cattle, several thousand head of mules, 10,000 negroes and over 400 prisoners.  His entire loss is trifling in men and material.  In addition to this, by the destruction of very important railroad lines Gen. Sherman has released McPherson’s corps [James B. McPherson] from guard duty along the Mississippi and restored it to active service.

— The bombardment of Charleston is progressing vigorously, but with little loss of life, if we may credit rebel accounts.  Only one person was injured during the last fortnight, and 2,250 shells were fired.—They do not say anything about the damage to buildings.

— New Hampshire has gone Union, electing Gilmore² governor by 7,000 majority.

— General U. S. GRANT has been formally commissioned as Lieutenant General, U. S. A., by the President.

— Lieut. Gen. Grant is said to be in favor of taking Richmond before anything further is done towards penetrating the South.  It is rumored that he will take the Army of the Potomac and make the attempt, assisted by Generals Meade [George G. Meade], Hooker [Joseph Hooker], Sherman, and others.  Before the attempt is made the army will be largely increased.

1.  One half of a stereographic view of a Union soldier inspecting the damaged railroad tracks torn up by Sherman’s troops. In the foreground, wooden ties are pried out, piled up, and burned. While the wood is burning, the iron rails are laid down in the fire and destroyed. Although probably taken near Atlanta later in 1864, the troops had honed this technique in Mississippi. From the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (LOT 4177, no. 200).
2. Joseph Albree Gilmore (1811-1867) was New Hampshire’s 29th governor. He served two terms as governor during the Civil War (1863-1865), and most of his efforts were consumed by the War.  A loan was secured that provided payments to soldiers, as well as for the transporting of soldiers on furloughs. Prior to being elected governor, he was a construction agent and later railroad superintendent of the Concord and Claremont Railroad, and a New Hampshire state senator (1858-1860).

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