Sherman’s march to Meridian to be featured this weekend

Published 10:56 am Monday, January 27, 2014

A weekend full of events at Vicksburg National Military Park will commemorate Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s often overlooked Meridian Campaign that launched from here in February 1864.
At 7 p.m. Friday in the park Visitor Center auditorium, ranger Will Wilson will present a program on the campaign that historians often view as a precursor to Sherman’s total war strategy used in his March to the Sea.
Admission to the ranger talk is free.
Sherman and his 20,000 troops departed occupied Vicksburg on Feb. 3, 1864, on a mission to destroy railroads and anything of military value in Meridian.
Some minor skirmishes erupted between Vicksbug and Morton, but the main fighting did not come until Feb. 14, 1864, when Sherman’s men reached Meridian and encountered the a Confederate force led by Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk.
Polk, who was an Episcopal bishop, laid the cornerstone of Christ Episcopal Church on Main and Locust streets in 1839.
Events at the military park continue at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. and noon Sunday with interpretive programs at the Shirley House — tour stop 2 on the park road.
“Park staff and volunteers will be providing first-person interpretive programs that highlight the role of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps in preparing for the Meridian Campaign,” park ranger Tim Kavanaugh wrote in an e-mail release.
During the programs at the Shirley House, visitors will be able to see and talk interpreters portraying Civil War soldiers, civilians, and a representative from the Western Freedman’s Bureau.
Admission to the park is $8 per noncommercial vehicle.
Vicksburg National Military Park is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and the USS Cairo Museum opens at 8:30 a.m.