previous next

[566] tobacco from falling into the hands of the enemy. Orders were given also to destroy certain property of the Confederate States, exceptions being made as in the case of the arsenal, the burning of which would endanger the city. To prevent the possibility of a general conflagration he had advised with the mayor and city council, and the necessary precautions were believed to have been taken. General Ewell's report, December 20, 1865, published in the Historical Society Papers,1 satisfactorily establishes the fact that the conflagration in Richmond of April 3, 1865, did not result from any act of the public authorities. The burning of the tobacco was resorted to only when the alternative was to burn or allow it to fall into the hands of the enemy, who, there was no doubt, would take it without making compensation to the owners. It was a disagreeable necessity, and therefore every opportunity was allowed to the owners of that and other articles of export to place them, if possible, beyond the danger of being applied to the use of the hostile government. There is no similitude between the destruction of public property made by us and the like act of the invader in our country. The property we destroyed belonged to the Confederate States only. Armories and shipyards destroyed by them—those, for instance, at Harpers Ferry and Norfolk—were the property of the states in common, which the Federal government had emphatically declared it was its bounden duty to preserve, and which was its first plea in justification of the act of sending an armed force against the Southern states.

The conflagration at Richmond occurred on the morning of April 3d, after I had left the city, and I therefore have only such knowledge in regard to it as was subsequently acquired from others. Those who would learn specifically the facts and speculations in regard to it are referred to the report of General Ewell, which has been above cited. Suffice it to say that the troops of neither army were considered responsible for that calamity.

On Sunday, April 2d, while I was in St. Paul's Church, General Lee's telegram, announcing his speedy withdrawal from Petersburg and the consequent necessity for evacuating Richmond, was handed to me. I rose quietly and left the church. The occurrence probably attracted attention, but the people of Richmond had been too long beleaguered, had known me to receive too often notice of threatened attacks, and the congregation of St. Paul's was too refined, to make a scene at anticipated danger. For all these reasons, the reader will be prepared for the announcement that the sensational stories which have been

1 Vol. I, p. 101.

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 Places (automatically extracted)
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.
Ewell (2)
G. W. C. Lee (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.
December 20th, 1865 AD (1)
April 3rd, 1865 AD (1)
April 3rd (1)
April 2nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: