We propose at some future day to publish in full the facts concerning the burning of Columbia
, and to fix beyond all controversy the responsibility for that outrage upon the laws of civilized warfare.
But in the meantime we put on record the following letter which General Wade Hampton
addressed to Senator Reverdy
and which he read in the United States Senate at the time:
We add the following brief report of the proceedings of the Senate on the presentation of the letter of General Hampton
, as showing the spirit of the times:
Mr. Sherman said he could not allow this charge of this most impudent Rebel against the whole army to be entered upon the records without some answer.
The charge of General Sherman in relation to the burning of Columbia was in an official report, and was fully sustained by reports of other officers.
General Sherman did not charge that Wade Hampton gave an explicit order on the subject, but simply that his previous order in relation to the burning of cotton, &c., led to that result.
Mr. Sherman read from various official reports to confirm the charge against General Hampton.
Mr. Fessenden objected to the practice of taking up the time of the Senate in reading letters addressed not to the Senate but to individual Senators, and especially on matters pertaining to private controversies between persons not members of the Senate.
Mr. Johnson moved the reference of General.Hampton's letter to the Committee on Military Affairs, or he was willing to have it lie on the table.
Mr. Fessenden hoped it would not be referred or ordered to lie on the table, but that the Senate would refuse to receive it.
Mr. Conness said that a man who would attempt to destroy the Government of the United States would certainly not hesitate to
burn a city.
He hoped the letter of Wade Hampton would not be received or considered at all by the Senate.
Mr. Johnson then withdrew the letter of General Hampton.
Times have changed since 1866. General Sherman
, in his Memoirs published in 1875, maintains that Columbia
was burned by accident and not by design, and makes this most remarkable admission [Memoirs, volume II, page 287]: “In my official report of this conflagration I distinctly charged it to General Wade Hampton
, and confess I did so pointedly to shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in my opinion a braggart, and professed to be the special champion of South Carolina
In other words General Sherman
coolly admits that he deliberately made in his official report a false charge against a soldier opposed to him in order to injure him with his own people.
We expect at the proper time to show that this admission is fatal to some other statements made by “the General
of the Army.”
But, fortunately, the character of Wade Hampton
was always above reproach, and now, after a career which has made him the idol of his people and the admiration of the world, he goes to take his seat on the floor of that Senate which in ‘66 denied him the simplest justice.