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[115]

We have discussed this letter thus fully because we feel satisfied that the annals of warfare disclose nothing so venal and depraved. Imagine, if it is possible to do so, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson commanding an army licensed by them to plunder the defenceless, and then sharing in the fruits of this plundering!

We can barely allude to Sherman's burning of Columbia, the proof of which is too conclusive to admit of controversy. On the 18th December, 1864, General H. W. Halleck, major-general and chief-of-staff of the armies of the United States, wrote Sherman as follows: * * *

‘Should you capture Charleston, I hope that by some accident the place may be destroyed, and if a little salt should be thrown upon its site, it may prevent the future growth of nullification and secession.’

To this suggestion from this high (?) source to commit murder, arson and robbery, and pretend it was by accident, Sherman replied on December 24, 1664, as follows:

‘I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do not think that “salt” will be necessary. When I move the Fifteenth corps will be on the right of the right wing, and their position will naturally bring them into Charleston first, and if you have watched the history of that corps, you will have remarked that they generally do their work pretty well; the truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble for her fate, but feel that she deserves all that seems in store for her. I look upon Columbia as quite as bad as Charleston, and I doubt if we shall spare the public buildings there, as we did at Milledgeville.’

(See 2 Sherman's Memoirs, pages 223, 227-8.)

We say proof of his ordering (or permitting, which is just as bad) the destruction of Columbia is overwhelming. (See report of Chancellor Carroll, chairman of a committee appointed to investigate the facts about this in General Bradley T. Johnson's Life of Johnson, from which several of these extracts are taken.) Our people owe General Johnson a debt of gratitude for this and his other contributions


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