out by some of the firemen of the city, aided by a detail of soldiers under charge of an officer. * * * I now (later in the day) had intimation that the Union
officers released by us from the city prisons had formed a society, to which had been added many members from our soldiers and the negroes, the object of which society was to burn Columbia
This movement is mentioned, not to account for the burning, but to show the feeling in the army — a feeling of which General Sherman
was fully aware before he furnished that opportunity for its wreaking.
The following towns and villages in South Carolina
, in some of which at least there was no cotton in the streets, were burned either in whole or in part during the same campaign: Robertsville
Thirteenth. General Beauregard
, and not General Hampton
, was the highest military authority in Columbia
at that time.
was assigned to duty at Columbia
on the night of the 16th, Thursday; and the order issued about the cotton came from General Beauregard
at the request of General Hampton
(through the latter, of course); and that order signed by Captain Rawlins Lowndes
, Assistant Adjutant-General
, was that the cotton be not burned.
in his affidavit, submitted in evidence before the Mixed Claims Commission
, after explaining that General Hampton
, after conference with General Beauregard
, had directed him (Captain Lowndes
) to issue an order that no cotton should be fired, adds: “This I did at once, and when I left Columbia
, which I did after the entrance of the Federal
troops, not one bale of cotton was burned, nor had any been fired by our troops.
At the time I was acting as Assistant A. A. G. for General Hampton
This order not to burn the cotton is not important as showing the origin of the fire, because it hardly touches that question directly at all; but it is important in its bearing upon the veracity of General Sherman
, who in his official report (1865) said that General Hampton
“ordered that all cotton, public and private, should be moved into the streets and fired.”
The existence of that order — not to burn the cotton — and the testimony of General Beauregard
, General Hampton
and Captain Lowndes
may be accepted as settling that one point.
Fourteenth. General Sherman
, in his report to the Committee
on the Conduct of the War
(page 6 of Part 1 of the Supplemental