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[277] were completely smashed, sash and all; doors were burst off their hinges; locks and bolts were snapped like glass; the brick walls of one or two houses were caved in like bellying sails, and for half a minute after the first great explosion there was a rattling sound of falling bricks and fragments of glass. There were several other explosions during the forenoon, but none so terrific as this first one. A few more such would have shattered every house in the town so as to render it uninhabitable.

Among the ammunition was a great number of shells, and the fragments from the bursting of these whizzed about and fell in every part of the town, killing and wounding many persons.

When the enemy first entered the town, and the handful of infantry were endeavoring to stem the torrent, several of the citizens were observed firing upon our troops from windows and behind fences. Others, however, acted honorably, especially the ladies. Northern cotton-buyers, who had large amounts of money with them, immediately handed their funds over to ladies in the houses where they were boarding, and, as the ladies were respected, their money was saved. One gentleman, who had only arrived in the town on the evening previous to the entrance of the enemy, had forty thousand dollars with him. As soon as he saw how matters were going, that every Northern man was marched up to headquarters and searched, he handed the package containing that amount over to the mistress of the house, whom he had never seen until twelve hours before, who, by the way, was a strong advocate of secession, and the day after received from her hands his package of money. Several other Southern women wore belts that day worth from twenty to fifty thousand dollars, all of which belonged to Northern men. When the enemy marched out of town in the evening, several of our officers who had been captured were taken with them. Among them was Major Fullerton, of the Second Illinois cavalry, and several whose names I have been unable to learn. As the column passed through the streets, several ladies of the best families in the town, though known to be secessionists, came out and requested Van Dorn and his officers to treat the prisoners kindly, because that during their own rule in Holly Springs they had acted like gentlemen. Let it be recorded in honor of the women of Holly Springs, that though their prejudices may be in the wrong side, they have the hearts and sympathies of true womanhood, which overcame even their prejudices! One such woman does more toward ameliorating the horrors of war — does more toward ending it — than fifty of those viragos who spit their venom from windows and doorways at our troops as they pass, trusting to the immunity which is their sex's privilege for safety.

Van Dorn remained in Holly Springs from seven o'clock in the morning until five in the evening, during which time he destroyed about two million dollars' worth of Government property in the shape of ammunition, commissary and quartermasters' stores, etc., besides an immense amount of private property, among which were one thousand eight hundred bales of cotton. Some of the cotton had been seized by the Government and confiscated, but the larger half belonged to individuals in the cotton trade. Forty-two cars, two locomotives, and every one of the depot buildings were destroyed. The track, however, of the road was left uninjured. The rebs made some attempts to burn the bridges just above and below the town, but the timber in the bridges, which had but recently been rebuilt by our army, was too green to burn. They then attempted to destroy them by sawing the braces, but did not succeed in doing much damage.

But all that I can write from hearsay will not give you so good an idea of the scenes that transpired during that day as the graphic letters which a friend (Mr. Wing, of Columbus, Ohio) had written to a friend, relating his own experiences, and from which he has kindly given me the privilege of extracting. He says:

I went to bed on Friday morning with as perfect a feeling of security as I ever did in my own house. Mr. Lough (of St. Louis) was my room-mate and bed-fellow. I waked up about daylight, and soon after heard cheering such as you have heard from our troops on the cars. Lough observed, ‘There is a regiment going up,’ meaning toward Jackson, where there had been some skirmishing for a few days past. Directly I heard shooting — pop, pop, pop, in quick succession, and horsemen galloping up the road toward town. I jumped up and run to the window, and saw the street was full of Texas cavalry — real, wild, butternut-colored fellows, yelling like Indians. Said I to Lough: ‘Get up, the town is full of secesh!’ Lough jumped up, took one glance. ‘Wing, we're gobbled, by Judas!!’ [I never heard him swear before or since.] We commenced washing and dressing. I concluded to try the virtue of a clean shirt with the rascals, and put on a fresh shirt, drawers, and socks. I thought of several things in a very few moments. The financial question was the most troublesome. [Mr. Wing was buying cotton, and had a very large amount of money with him.] ‘What to do with it,’ that was the question. I took my money and made two piles of it, one I divided into two parcels and put in my belt, and put that on next my body, the other I gave to Mrs. Barney, except seventy-five dollars, which I put in my wallet. I arranged my papers, destroying some and putting others away. Lough called to the old darkey woman to bring us some cold meat and bread; we put on our overcoats and awaited results. By this time the secesh cavalry had complete possession of the town, and were driving our men in little squads as prisoners toward the depot. Before our lunch came, there was a violent ringing at the door-bell. I looked out and saw three cavalrymen at the gate and one at the door. The negro answered the bell. ‘Tell your master that we want him, and every other man in the house, quick!’ A Lieutenant


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