Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 08.djvu/132

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

General W. T. Sherman's Visit to the Misses L——— at Canton, Miss., in February, 1864.

By General S. D. Lee's Chief Surgeon.

To render the points of interest in the conversation between General Sherman and the young ladies clearly intelligible, I will mention briefly the events which were the subject of discussion. General Sherman made two campaigns in Mississippi, besides those in which he was under the immediate command of General Grant. In the first, he came down the Mississippi river with thirty-two thousand men, and landing on Yazoo river, on the side next to Vicksburg, in December, 1862, advanced upon that place by way of Chickasaw bayou. He was met about six miles from Vicksburg by General Stephen D. Lee, with twenty-five hundred infantry and eight pieces of field artillery, which were posted in a strong position. After several desperate charges, General Sherman's army was repulsed with considerable loss in killed, wounded and prisoners. This ended the campaign, and he returned up the Mississippi river.

The second campaign commenced at Vicksburg. On the 3d of February, 1864, he marched towards Meridian with twenty-seven thousand infantry, artillery and cavalry. He ordered General Smith, who was at Memphis, to march, with eight thousand cavalry and light artillery, by way of Okalona, Mississippi, and join him at Meridian.

General Polk, who was at Demopolis with his infantry corps, on hearing that General Sherman's army had reached Meridian and that General Smith was marching to the same place, ordered General S. D. Lee to march with thirty-five hundred cavalry and unite his force with an equal force under General N. Bedford Forrest, who was collecting his cavalry near West Point, Mississippi, to oppose General Smith. When General Smith reached West Point, he found Forrest on his right flank at Sookatouchie creek, four miles west of West Point, and Stephen D. Lee preparing to cross Tibbee creek, four miles south of West Point, which creek was deep and could not be forded. General Smith retreated precipitately, pursued by General Forrest, who was nearest the line of his retreat, and who succeeded in striking General Smith's rear guard a blow at Okalona and capturing six light field pieces.

General Sherman had only one brigade of cavalry at Meridian,