orders were, the men of his army, either his rear guard or his stragglers, did apply the fire, and that this was a sufficient cause for all else that followed.”
By “all else,” of course, General Sherman
means the destruction of the city.
In his official report of the event itself in 1865 General Sherman
says: “And without hesitation I charge General Wade Hampton
with having burned his own city of Columbia
, not with a malicious intent, or as the manifestation of a Roman stoicism, but from folly and want of sense in filling it with lint, cotton and tinder.”
I have thus given in his own words General Sherman
's three statements of his version of the story of Columbia
They show a toning down as we come on from 1865 to 1873, and finally to 1875; but this discrepancy is not the matter before me just now. The general idea of the three statements is that the burning of Columbia
was an accident, and that General Hampton
is responsible for it. I propose to show that the burning of Columbia
was a crime, and that General Sherman
is responsible for it.
On page 287 of volume first of the Supplemental report of the joint Committee on the conduct of the war,
published officially by the Government
, are these words in a dispatch dated December 18, 1864, from Major-General H. W. Halleck
, in Washington
, to General Sherman
, then in Savannah
: “Should you capture Charleston
, I hope that by some
accident the place may be destroyed, and if a little salt should be sown upon its site, it may prevent the growth of future crops of nullification and secession.”
The italicising of the word some
is done by General Halleck
Are not the animus and intention of these words perfectly clear?
That they were understood and cordially concurred in by the officer to whom they were addressed is apparent from General Sherman
's reply to them, which, dated December 24, 1864, contains these words: “I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston
, and don't think ‘salt ’ will be necessary.
When I move, the Fifteenth corps will be on the right of the right wing, and their position will bring them naturally into Charleston
first; and if you have watched the history of that corps, you will have remarked that they generally do their work up pretty well.
The truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina
I almost tremble at her fate, but feel that she deserves all that seems in store for her. * * * I look upon Columbia
as quite as bad as Charleston
（Page 291.) It will be observed here that General Sherman
distinctly approves General Halleck
's suggestion that