Special Report

US Cities and Towns Destroyed During the Civil War

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Old Columbus, Tennessee
> When: February 10, 1864

The town of Old Columbus, on the Cumberland River was a hotbed of Confederate guerilla and partisan activity. During a Union raid from Gainesboro, Ohio infantry chased Confederate rangers to the town. After ordering the women and children to evacuate, they burned Old Columbus to the ground. It was never rebuilt.

Meridian, Mississippi
> When: February 14-20, 1864

Before General Sherman set off on his Savannah campaign, he marched across central Mississippi from Vicksburg to Meridian. With a force of 20,000, Sherman spent a week in the town of Meridian, which was the crossroads of two rail lines, destroying houses and infrastructure, and looting valuables. Most of Meridian was burned to the ground.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Alexandria, Louisiana
> When: May 13, 1864

During the Union’s Red River campaign, Union forces occupied this riverside city until May 1864, when they retreated after burning down 90 percent of the structures. Churches, residences, libraries, businesses, a dam, and other public works infrastructure were all destroyed within a 22-block area.

Source: Fotosearch / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
> When: July 30, 1864

Confederate cavalry rode into this southern Pennsylvania town and demanded $100,000 in gold, which the townsfolk failed to raise. The troops then shelled and burned the town, destroying over 500 structures. Chambersburg would be the only Northern town that the Confederacy destroyed during the war.

Oxford, Mississippi
> When: August 22, 1864

Union troops entered this college town while pursuing the army of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, days after Forrest had left in order to raid Memphis. The Union forces then burned and pillaged the town, including parts of the university, businesses, the courthouse, warehouses, and residences.

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