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By noon they had reached Philadelphia only to learn that Grierson was long gone. They pressed south, but their progress was slowed by snipers and guerrillas – the country had been stirred up by Grierson’s passage. By nightfall they passed through Decatur, and camped two miles south of that town. The next day, they told themselves, they would catch up with Grierson at Newton. The Confederates were also searching for Grierson but looking in the wrong place, still focused on defending the Gulf and Ohio Railroad.

The eastbound train – a mixed passenger and freight – was also surprised and captured. Blackburn and the Seventh Illinois set to work destroying both trains. The freight train was filled with ordinance and commissary stores bound for Vicksburg, as well as timbers and planking to repair railroad trestles. The eastbound train contained one passenger car of civilians fleeing Vicksburg. Two of the freight cars contained their goods. Of the rest, four contained ammunition and six commissary stores. The passengers’ possessions were not military contraband, but the cars were.

A repair crew would have to replace the missing line. By 1863 telegraph line was a scarce commodity in the Confederacy. Once at Newton – or whatever town the raiders ultimately reached – the cavalrymen would do as much damage to track and town as time permitted. There were strict rules as to what could or could not be deliberately destroyed. Most government buildings were fair game, although medical facilities such as hospitals were exempt. Industrial buildings with military application could also be destroyed.

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