previous next

[451] can be that the cotton which did burn was set fire to by the Union soldiers; that this fire did not cause the general conflagration, and that the town was set fire to by Federal soldiers, at one time and in different places, and apparently at a given signal. Nay, in Dr. Trezevant's pamphlet General Sherman is quoted by Mayor Goodwyn as telling him, the morning after the city was burnt, that he ‘regretted very much that it was burned, and that it was the Mayor's fault in suffering liquor to remain in the city when it was evacuated.’ There was no word then of Hampton's cavalry and Confederate cotton. How, too, was the fire stopped? At three or four o'clock the next morning General Sherman gave this order to Captain Andrews: ‘This thing has gone far enough. See that a stop is put to it. Take Wood's division, and I hold you and them responsible, if it is not arrested.’ The fire then was quickly stopped. By his own showing, General Sherman allowed the fire to go on for hours, when he could have caused it to be extinguished. This, however, is not the question at issue.

There is, on the face of it, nothing improbable in the burning of Columbia with at least the acquiescence and assent of Sherman. It is not an isolated case. If Columbia alone had been burned, it might remain, to the North, a question of veracity between Hampton and Sherman, between ‘Rebel’ civilians and ‘Union’ soldiers. The chances in that case would favor implicit confidence in the North in the statements of the latter. But wherever Sherman's army went, in South Carolina, they burned, ravaged and destroyed. This was so in Blackville, Lexington, Winnsboroa and other places. When Confederate soldiers were absent, Sherman's army touched nothing that it did not destroy. Our reliance here is not on Southern testimony, though it were easy to find hundreds of our people who saw, and who suffered by, the work of devastation. There was not a town or village in the State which Sherman reached where the gaunt chimneys, rising from smoking ruins, did not stand as monuments of the victories of his legions over sad-eyed women and wailing children. Colonel Conyngham, United States Army, in his ‘History of Sherman's Great March,’ says: ‘There can be no doubt of the assertion that the feeling among the troops was one of extreme bitterness towards the people of South Carolina. It was freely expressed as the column hurried over the bridge at Sister's Ferry, eager to commence the punishment of the original Secessionists. Threatening words were heard from soldiers who prided themselves on conservatism in houseburning while in Georgia, and officers openly confessed their fears that the coming campaign would be a wicked one. Just or unjust ’

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 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.
W. T. Sherman (9)
R. Wood (1)
W. H. Trezevant (1)
Wade Hampton (1)
Goodwyn (1)
Conyngham (1)
Snowden Andrews (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: