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[671] a peculiar affection for the city. Even when Gen. Beauregard directed the evacuation of the city, so as to provide a force with which to fall upon Sherman, the President wrote such a despatch to Gen. Hardee, commanding in Charleston, as led him to suspend the evacuation, and obliged Beauregard to assume command, and to direct imperatively the measure to be completed.

Gen. Hardee completed the evacuation of the city on the 17th February. He destroyed the cotton warehouses, arsenals, two iron-clads, and some vessels in the ship-yard; but he was compelled to leave to the enemy all the heavy ordnance that could not be brought off, including two hundred pieces of artillery, which could only be spiked and temporarily disabled. A terrible incident of the evacuation, was an accidental explosion of powder in the large building at the depot of the Northwestern railroad, destroying several hundred lives. The building was blown into the air a whirling mass of ruins. From the depot the fire spread rapidly, and, communicating with the adjoining buildings, threatened destruction to that part of the city. Four squares, embracing the area bounded by Chapel, Alexander, Charlotte and Washington streets, were consumed before the conflagration was subdued.

Charleston came into the enemy's possession a scarred and mutilated city. It had made a heroic defence for nearly four years; for blocks not a building could be found that was exempt from the marks of shot and shell; what were once fine houses, presented great gaping holes in the sides and roof, or were blackened by fire; at almost every step were to be found evidences of destruction and ruin wrought by the enemy. After a display of heroism and sacrifice unexcelled in the war, this most famous city of the South fell, not by assault, or dramatic catastrophe, but in consequence of the stratagem of a march many miles away from it.

The evacuation of Charleston having been successfully accomplished, Hardee and Beauregard retired to Charlotte, whither Cheatham was making his way from Augusta to join them.

Capture of Fort Fisher-fall of Wilmington.

An important branch of Sherman's expedition through the Carolinas led from Wilmington. It was proposed by Gen. Grant to open still another base of operations towards Richmond, and with the capture of Wilmington, to effect an early communication with Sherman, and to sustain his march north by a co-operating column. Besides, it was important to get possession of Wilmington, as the most important sea-coast port left to the Confederates, through which to get supplies from abroad, and send cotton and other products out by blockade-runners. The Federal navy

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