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[158] now one of Richmond's most distinguished lawyers;——, at present a leading merchant of the same place;——, now dead, and others whose names I cannot recall. Together we hastened down Main street, and soon stood face to face with a fire, which was destined, as the day grew longer, to lay in ashes almost the whole of the business portion of the city. At that early hour it had not reached much north of Cary street, but such was its fierceness and the rapidity with which it was spreading that, in sheer despair, warehouse after warehouse was thrown open, and the gathered crowd of hungry, despairing people were told to go in and help themselves. Pell-mell they went, without regard to position in life. I remember to have seen one of the richest men in the city going up the street with what I was told was a bolt of red flannel under one arm and a bolt of something else under the other. Naturally I and my friends, like others, suited our action to the opportunity, and to the word of permission, and went in where to some extent angels might have feared to tread. For there was some danger in doing this. I remember how several times, when we were on the second or third story floor of a large building, the cry would be raised: ‘This building is on fire; get out quickly’; and down we would scramble, only to try our fortune elsewhere. I do not recall how long this looting continued, but the net result of it was ridiculously small, as I remember. We had all filled our hands, our pockets, and our arms with such things as we could find, and when the pillaging was over, we each had a great variety of things of one kind or another. Some had, however, more shoes, or more stockings, or more of something else than others, and we decided to equalize things by exchanging. With this in view we went to an alley running from Main to Cary street, where we dumped the booty into one pile, and proceeded to distribute it equally. I remember the spot well, not only because of what has already been said, but because it was while standing here, thus engaged, that we were startled by the cry: ‘The Yankees are coming.’ And, sure enough, there came the advance guard of the Federal army up Main street. Now we were, or at least we thought we were, a lot of very brave fellows, but I must say the alarm and sight of the Federal troops so demoralized the whole crowd that we took to our heels, leaving almost all of our booty in the alley. The only thing I took home with me was a pair of rough, tanned, brogan shoes, such as corn-field hands might wear. These, however, I did save, and in the hard times that followed they were the only shoes I had for months.

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