Civil War Trail - Visit Meridian

Civil War Trail

For many years residents of Meridian, Mississippi, regarded Valentine's Day not as an occasion for hearts and flowers, but as the anniversary of the day they lost everything. On February 14, 1864, General William T. Sherman and a Union force of 20,000 entered Meridian, intent on destroying it. Its position at the junction of two railroads made Meridian a key link in an important Confederate supply line and a tempting target for Sherman's wrath. Believing Sherman's true target was Mobile, Alabama, Confederate Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk evacuated Meridian, leaving it defenseless. Union forces spent the week of February 14–20 destroying railroads, burning buildings and homes, and confiscating anything of value. After their departure Sherman reported that Meridian "no longer exists." Despite this, the railroad tracks were repaired in 26 working days, and the city continued to grow.