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[121] cotton which was stored in the city and arranged it in long rows in the main streets, and then set it on fire. Certainly this was done before any of our men reached the city. The Confederate officers were themselves under orders to destroy the cotton to keep it from falling into our hands. They destroyed also provisions and other supplies, and it is undoubtedly the case that the Confederates set fire to the cotton and a few of the buildings, one of which was a railway depot. The wind was blowing a hurricane all the morning so that the fire quickly spread; as soon as one or two houses had caught and began to burn, the flames extended to the others.

I had gone on through the city and taken up my quarters at the College; but, noticing the extraordinary conduct of Stone's brigade, I quickly sent for another brigade to replace this, and then a little later for another. Finally, I had the whole of one division and a part of another guarding the city, and endeavoring to protect the inhabitants and save all that was possible from the flames. There were many imprisoned people-negroes, Union prisoners of war, and State convicts — who were let loose by our men. There were also criminal classes and drunken soldiers. All these elements, doubtless, were soon engaged in making bad matters worse, against my wishes and the orders of the other commanders. The ensuing great damage was originally owing to the fires set by the Confederate authorities.

I spoke of the depot being consumed. Near that was a magazine. The day before we entered some Confederates were said to be plundering there. They dropped a spark, perhaps from a cigar, where there was some powder upon the floor. The explosion was

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George A. Stone (1)
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