EAST CENTRAL MISSISSIPPI 261 In April 1865, with the war almost at its end, Colonel Robert Lowry of Smith County, who later served two terms as Mississippi governor, and his troops with a pack bloodhounds entered Jones County to flush The Knight Company from the swamp. silverware, jewelry, money, and firearms. Grierson reached Decatur at dawn on April 24, 1863, and struck the Meridian and Jackson road at Newton station at 6 a.m. on the eighth day of the raid. Grierson torched the Newton depot and warehouse and destroyed approximately twenty miles of tracks east and west of the town. Sherman’s Meridian Campaign began in February 1864 with his 150-mile march from Vicksburg. The morning of February 11, the XVI Corps, led by Union Major General Stephen A. Hurlbut, entered Newton County at the Tuscalameta Creek. Around noon on February 12, Smith’s Division of the XVI Corps entered Decatur and made camp east of Decatur. With Hurlbut’s column was Major General William T. Sherman, who decided to spend the night in the area. In Sherman’s memoir, he writes: “Presently I heard shouting and halooing, and then heard pistol-shots close to the house. My aide, Major (J. C.) Audenried, called me and said we were attacked by Rebel Cavalry, who were all around us...” The infantry regiment Sherman posted at the crossroads was gone and he commanded Audenried to bring them back. “…Meantime, I went out into the backyard, saw wagons passing at a run down the road, and horsemen dashing about in a cloud of dust, firing their pistols, their shots reaching the house in which we were. I was preparing to get into a corncrib at the back side of the lot wherein to defend ourselves, when I saw Audenried coming back with the regiment…The escort defended their wagons as well as they could and thus diverted their attention; otherwise I would surely have been captured.” On February 14, Union troops marched from Marion Road at Suqualena Creek south to the Meridian Road. Confederate soldiers attempted to slow the opposition by cutting down trees, burning bridges, and using sniper bullets. Union troops cleared the debris, climbed over the obstacles and repaired the bridges as they marched toward Meridian. The Civil War Chronicle newspaper reported: “Rebels Retreat as Sherman Strikes Through Mississippi Meridian, Miss., Feb.14—It is a Valentine’s Day this city will never forget. The Union army of Gen. W.T. Sherman marched into the city this afternoon unopposed by any Southern force. Tonight storehouses, depots, hospitals, arsenal, offices and hotels are going up in flames. More than 10,000 U.S. troops have been ordered to destroy all rail approaches, bridges and trestles leading to the city...” On February 16 at 6 a.m., Crocker’s Division, the 11th Illinois Cavalry and one section of the 15th Ohio Battery departed Meridian and headed to Enterprise while the 45th Illinois guarded the bridge over the Okatibbee in Meridian. Colonel Potts and his brigade marched along the railroad to Chunky. Potts ordered that all bridges and culverts be burned. The Chunky Bridge, about 200 feet long, had a stockade fort on each end. After the men crossed the bridge, a great pier of railroad ties was piled above and below the bridge and the torch set to it. The railroad northeast of Marion was left to Brigadier General James Veatch. Two miles east of Meridian, the Pioneer Cotton Manufacturing Mill had only been open a few months before Sherman’s troops destroyed it and the community, leaving only three houses standing. The railroad from Lauderdale Springs to the Chickasawhay River south of Quitman was also destroyed. Enterprise as well as Quitman received great damage. A letter from Brig. Gen. Walter Q. Gresham to Gen. Sherman dated March 5, 1864 stated: “I proceeded from Enterprise to Quitman and destroyed a large railroad bridge over the Chickasawhay, two miles south of the town. The bridge was covered and 210 feet long. Immediately north of the bridge I effectually destroyed the railroad depot at Quitman, the large stream flouring mill, and one large steam sawmill.” According to the War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Confederate and Union Armies, Sherman recorded “...For five days 10,000 men worked hard and with a will in that work of destruction, with axes, crowbars, sledges, claw bars, and with fire and I have no hesitation in pronouncing the work as well done. Meridian with its depots, store-houses, arsenal, hospitals, offices, hotels, and cantonments no longer exists.” In April 1865, with the war almost at its end, Colonel Robert Lowry of Smith County, who later served two terms as Mississippi governor, and his troops with a pack bloodhounds entered Jones County to flush The Knight Company from the swamp. Bloodhounds mauled several of Knight’s men and ten men were hanged. Those left dangling from the trees served as a warning to others.