Gen. Sherman's Expedition.
Our dispatches of yesterday state that Gen. Sherman had occupied Meridian, Miss., the rebel Gen. Polk having evacuated the place without making any decided resistance. They also bring the somewhat startling intelligence that Gen. Polk had reached Jackson about the time our forces reached Meridian, completely outwitting Gen. Sherman and cutting off his communications.
Meridian is one hundred and forty miles nearly due east from Vicksburg, (and from Jackson ninety-five and a half,) at the junction of the Southern Mississippi with the Mobile and Ohio Railway, and a few miles from the eastern line of the State of Mississippi. By the latter railroad it is one hundred and ninety-four miles south of Corinth, and one hundred and thirty-four north of west from Mobile. Selma, on the Alabama river, is about one hundred miles west of Meridian, and Montgomery about fifty miles still further in the same direction. From the location of Meridian the importance of its possession with reference to future movements will be readily understood. That Gen. Sherman has contemplated a direct attack upon Mobile, there is little reason to suppose. It is more probable that his movement was intended to co-operate with one to be made against Mobile by Gen. Banks, to which the occupation of a position north of Lake Pontchartrain by a large force some weeks ago was preparatory. If he should advance to Selma he will thus become master of both the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers, which unite and empty into Mobile Bay, thus commanding two of the most important avenues of communication with the city from the north.
If true, as asserted, that Gen. Polk is in possession of Jackson, this fact will probably compel Gen. Sherman to a retreat, in order to open his communication with the Mississippi again, or at least temporarily check his advance furthe east. Gen. Sherman's force, however, is undoubtedly superior to the rebel force under Gen. Polk, and it is hardly probable that the latter would place himself in a position to be crushed by the former for the desperate chances of cutting off the supplies of his antagonist and compelling him to subsist his army by foraging upon the country. In addition, we cannot readily bring ourselves to the conclusion that so able and experienced a commander as Gen. Sherman would permit himself to be outgeneralled in this manner. For these reasons we shall await further advices before giving full credence to the reports of disaster in that quarter.
To the eye of a civilian the figures upon the Southern chess-board are in some confusion just now, and a little time will be necessary to remove the mystery which overshadows their movements. The cavalry divisions under Grierson and Smith which left LaGrange, Tenn., on the 11th, were undoubtedly intended to play an important part in connection with Gen. Sherman's movement. Neither these nor General Logan's corps, which left Huntsville a few days ago, have been heard from. While there is reason to fear that the unexpected delay in the cavalry expedition has somewhat disarranged Gen. Sherman's plans, it is highly probable that a junction between the two expeditions has already been effected, and that the next definite intelligence we shall receive from Gen. Sherman will be by way of Chattanooga. What changed aspects the movements which have been going on in Northern Mississippi and Alabama may give to the situation remains to be seen, and further developments will be awaited with great anxiety.