- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) - A Civil War Trail will be dedicated in Lauderdale County on Feb. 14, the 150th anniversary of the burning of Meridian by Union troops under the command of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.

“That is the day the burning began in 1864. So we thought how appropriate to unveil our trail and the markers on that day as a tie-in to its historical significance,” said Stephen Martin of the local tourism department, Visit Meridian.

The Meridian Star reported (http://bit.ly/1iE9JY5) the trail will include 10 markers at significant sites throughout the area.

Visit Meridian plans a Civil War symposium before the dedication.

The population of Meridian was about 400 when the Union army attacked, Martin said.

The city, situated near the Alabama border and with a direct line to Jackson, was of strategic importance to the Union.

Sherman wanted to disable Meridian’s three railroad systems, Martin said.

“He even made the famous quote about how we no longer existed,” Martin said. “But just in 26 days, the city rebuilt. That’s just how resilient the community was.”

The work to establish the trail has been a cooperative effort of several local governments as well as tourism interests.

Many bus tour inquiries indicate an interest in either the Civil War or the Civil Rights Movement, said Visit Meridian executive director Dede Mogollon.

Each marker on the trail will be equipped with a QR code, which will allow smartphone users to get much more information than is available on the marker itself, Mogollon said.

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement’s Freedom Summer, a Civil Rights Trail will be unveiled in a few months, Mogollon said, which also will have markers with QR codes. It will likely be more extensive than the Civil War Trail, she said.

The Civil War symposium will be held on Feb. 14 in the second-floor conference room of Union Station beginning at 8:30 a.m.

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Information from: The Meridian Star, http://www.meridianstar.com