previous next
[702] to evacuate this city, so famous in the War, and so long coveted by the Yankees. But he was resolved to leave as little as possible for the enemy's rapacity.

At an early hour of the morning, before the retirement of Gen. Hardee's troops, every building, warehouse, or shed, stored with cotton, was fired by a guard detailed for the purpose. The engines were brought out; but, with the small force at the disposal of the fire department, very little else could be done than to keep the surrounding buildings from igniting. On the western side of the city, the flames raged with great fury.

The horrors of the conflagration were heightened by a terrible catastrophe. It appears, some boys had discovered a quantity of powder at the depot of the North-western railroad, and amused themselves by flinging handfuls of it upon the masses of burning cotton in the streets. It was not long before the powder running from their hands formed a train upon the ground, leading from the fire to the main supplies of powder in the depot. The result is easily conjectured. A spark ignited the powder in the train; there was a leaping, running fire along the ground, and then an explosion which shook the city to its very foundations from one end to the other. The building was, in a second, a whirling mass of ruins, in a tremendous volume of flame and smoke. About 200 lives were lost by the explosion, and not less than 150 bodies were found charred in that fiery furnace.

From the depot, the fire spread rapidly, and, communicating with the adjoining buildings, threatened destruction to that part of the town. Four squares, embracing the area bounded by Chapel, Alexander, and Washington streets, were consumed before the conflagration was subdued.

The destruction of public property had been as complete as Gen. Hardee could make it. He burned the cotton warehouses, arsenals, quartermaster's stores, railroad bridges, two iron-clads, and some vessels in the ship-yard. Among the captured property were 200 pieces of artillery; spiked and temporarily disabled, as they could not be brought off.

The Yankees occupied Charleston on the 18th of February. A scarred city, blackened by fire, with evidences of destruction and ruin wrought by the enemy at almost every step, had at last come into their possession; but not until a heroic defense, running through nearly four years, and at last only by the stratagem of a march many miles away from it. The appearance of the city was eloquent of the sacrifices and heroism of its people. A Yankee correspondent, who had joined in the triumphal entry into Charleston, thus described the scene before his eyes: “Not a building for blocks here that is exempt from the marks of shot and shell. All have suffered more or less. Here is a fine brown-stone bank building vacant and deserted, with great, gaping holes in the sides and roof, through which the sun shines and the rain pours; windows and sashes blown out by exploding shell within; plastering knocked down; counters torn up; floors crushed in, and fragments of Mosaic pavement, broken and crushed, lying around on the floor, mingled with bits of statuary, stained glass, and broken parts of chandeliers. Ruin within and without; and its neighbor in no better plight. The churches, St. Michael's and St. Philip's, have not escaped the storms of our projectiles. Their roofs are perforated, their walls wounded, their pillars demolished, and within the pews filled with plastering. From Bay street, studded with batteries, to Calhoun street, our shells have carried destruction and desolation, and often death, with them.”

Lt.-Col. A. G. Bennett, commanding on Morris island, receiving information which justified a belief that Charleston had been evacuated, at once dispatched a boat toward Fort Moultrie; which boat, when 40 yards east of Fort Sumter, was met by one from Sullivan's island, containing a band of musicians left behind by Hardee. These confirmed the rumored evacuation; whereupon, Maj. J. A. Hennessy was sent to raise the flag over recovered Fort Sumter; which was effected at 9 A. M. Fort Ripley and Castle Pinckney submitted promptly and gracefully to a like embellishment — their guns having been left in a serviceable condition. At 10 A. M., Bennett reached the city, which the enemy had not yet wholly evacuated; a mounted force being still engaged in setting fires. He at once demanded of Mayor Macbeth a surrender, which was promptly accorded. A small force was brought up so soon as possible, and the work of extinguishing the raging fires vigorously prosecuted — the Blacks of

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Hardee (3)
A. G. Bennett (2)
J. C. Sullivan (1)
Macbeth (1)
J. A. Hennessy (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
February 18th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: