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“ [127] ground to tremble.” This trembling was felt in a circuit of several miles.

The very statement of the destruction of property indicates the terrible wastes of war. Both armies were burning the cotton. The Confederates seemed to think that we, being Yankees, wanted it for gain, and we believed that the Confederate government depended upon this staple as the foundation of their revenue, so we burned it. One or the other of the parties was evidently making a mistake.

My last glimpse of Columbia after I had done what I could for the immediate necessities of the destitute inhabitants, and had parted with the mayor of the city, was a sad retrospect to me, for I had never expected to leave such a wild desert as the regions burned over, covered with blackened debris, smoldering embers, and numerous lone chimneys, presented.

My rear guard for February 20, 1865, the day of departure, consisted of two brigades, one from each corps. They were the two that were then guarding the town. Just in advance of these, who had brought out all the stragglers, was a new and remarkable accession to my columns, called a “refugee train.” It consisted of thousands of people who wished to leave Columbia, mostly negroes besides at least 800 whites. The refugees carried their luggage on pack horses, on their backs, or in vehicles of every conceivable description. A variety of reasons caused this extraordinary exodus; for example, escaping prisoners feared reincarceration; those who had betrayed their loyalty to the old flag, hitherto concealed, feared revenges; those who had been especially kind to the Yankees had signs of coming retribution, and many who had lost everything by the fire desired to escape extreme want;

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February 20th, 1865 AD (1)
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