Lauderdale County Civil War Monument
The Lauderdale County Civil War Monument, located at 500 Constitution Avenue, Meridian, Mississippi, was erected and dedicated in 1902. This monument commemorates the lives of soldiers lost in the battles and skirmishes in the city and surrounding areas of Meridian. While the actual city of Meridian did not see much war, on February 14, 1864 the city was destroyed by Union General William T. Sherman. Gen. Sherman and his 10,000 Union troops destroyed depots, storehouses, weapons arsenals, rail routes hospitals, offices, and hotels in the logistical city of Meridian. While the Confederate army took many logistical losses that day, the city of Meridian and its citizens struggled for many years to come to regain their losses.
Backstory and Context
The city of Meridian, located in the eastern part of Mississippi, was considered a key logistical supply center for many Confederate troops in the south. Meridian is located in the center of two key southern cities, Jackson, Mississippi and Selma, Alabama. The city housed the intersection of three major railroads that moved major shipments all across the south. These railways transported things such as weapons and cannons to and from Selma, as well as important agricultural materials to fertile farm lands to the north.
When Union General William T. Sherman entered Meridian on February 14, 1864, his intent was to destroy and destabilize the logistical cache as well as demoralize the Confederate supporters. General Sherman moved his ten thousand Union soldiers from their location in Vicksburg one-hundred fifty miles to Meridian, causing Confederate General Leonidas Polk to retreat farther east. For the next five days, Gen. Sherman waited in Meridian for a rendezvous with a Union General William Smith that never arrived. While Gen. Sherman’s soldiers waited, the city was destroyed. His goal was “to wipe the appointed meeting place off the map.” Nevertheless, his goal was achieved and he left the city in ruin five days later.
This monument is was erected in 1902 by the members of Lauderdale County, Mississippi. It is located in a court yard in front of the Lauderdale County Municipal Building. This monument represents all the Confederate soldiers and civilians of the city of Meridian during the years of 1861-1865. This memorial is a very tall stone monuments with a Confederate soldier at the top and an inscription in all capital letters on the front that reads,
“It is wreathed around with glory,
And will live in song and story,
For it's fame on brightest pages,
Penned by poets and by sages,
Shall go sounding down the ages.
This, the Lauderdale County Confederate Monument is dedicated to the men, women and children of 61-65, whose sublime devotion to duty aroused the admiration of the world; who were ambitious but to serve their country, and were ever ready to be sacrificed for it. May their lives be an inspiration for emulation to generations yet unborn.
The history of valor and fortitude of the Confederate soldier in defense of constitutional liberty is the heritage of the South.”
For more information, visit the monument, contact the Lauderdale County Municipal Building, or research the Meridian Campaign online.
Dougherty, Kevin. Sherman's Meridian Campaign: A Practice Run for the March to the Sea. Mississippi History Now. April 01, 2007. http://www.mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/articles/2/shermans-meridian-campaign-a-practice-run-for-the-march-to-the-sea.
History.com Staff. Sherman Enters Meridian, Mississippi. History.com. February 14, 2009. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/sherman-enters-meridian-mississippi.