"From the 119th Regiment."
Knowing that your readers will wish to hear something of the result of Gen. Sherman's great expedition, I drop you a short sketch of the trip. The expedition, consisting of part of Gen. McPherson's corps (17th) and part of Gen. Hurlbut's (16th) corps, left Vicksburg on the 1st of February. The 17th corps crossed the Big Black at the railroad bridge and the 16th at Messenger's Ferry, a few miles above. At Champion Hills a considerable force of rebel cavalry commenced skirmishing with the 17th, but it amounted to very little. A small force met the 16th at Queen's Hill, about 8 miles from the Big Black, and gave us a sharp little skirmish, but only one man on our part was wounded — one of the 58th Ill. Co. A of the 119th Ill. was advance guard of our column, and had the honor of firing the first shot fired by the infantry and gained warm praise for their conduct in the skirmish. The next day skirmishing was kept up in front nearly all day, and when within four or five miles of Jackson a fine field piece was captured from the rebs, with caisson, team, teamsters and gunners, all complete, by the 11th Ill. cavalry. Our advance also entered and took possession of Jackson, the rebs retreating across Pearl river in too great haste to destroy their pontoon bridge. On the 7th our forces passed through Jackson, and with daily skirmishing in front by the cavalry, passed through Brandon, Hillsborough and Decatur, and on 14th entered Meridian, the great southwestern R. R. center. Lieut. Gen. Bishop Polk with considerable force was in Meridian to dispute our entrance, but left for Mobile just in time to avoid a fight. Our forces destroyed all the culverts and bridges from Jackson to Meridian and much of the track.
At Meridian we found extensive buildings for general hospital purposes, some considerable amount of corn and other army stores, with the preparations for an extensive armory, &c. We remained in the vicinity of Meridian repairing the railroads most thoroughly in all directions to a distance of from 10 to 25 miles. On the 20th we started back from Marion, a point six miles north of Meridian, on the Mobile & Ohio R. R., and on a road intersecting our previous route at Hillsborough, from which point we took the road for Canton, where we arrived on the 26th. At that point we found some 12 or 15 locomotives, which we of course repaired most thoroughly, as we also did some 10 or 12 miles of the R. R. Leaving Canton on the 1st inst. we reached here last evening, the 4th, and are all ready and waiting for the other expedition which General Sherman has promised us, but when or where that will be, or what portion of the force engaged in this trip will be employed on the next one, we do not know nor do we feel anxious on that point, for we feel satisfied that Gen. Sherman knows what to do, and where he leads us we are willing to follow.
The importance of this raid in its effects can hardly be over-estimated. The whole State of Mississippi is cut off from all railroad communication with the eastern and northern part of rebeldom. Railroad transit between Mobile and Atlanta, and thence to Chattanooga is smashed up, and the sudden transit of troops between those points or from the east to threaten points on the Mississippi river, is effectually prevented. Our loss has been almost nothing. I presume more than three-fourths of our loss has been by men straggling from their commands. Our right lost four, Lieut. H. R. Hubbard, and two privates named McGibbon from Co. A, and one private named McCreary from Co. C, were "gobbled" on the 22d of February, while foraging a short distance from the road.
These are the only losses our regiment has sustained on the whole trip. Contrabands [unknown] the Big Black, over five hundred able-bodied ‘American citizens of African descent’ already enlisted and organized into companies. Take it all in all this trip will be most severely felt by the rebels; besides a number of citizens have also come back with us as refugees. — Many of them conscripts, some of whom had for months been hiding in the woods and swamps to avoid serving Jeff. Davis.