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Applying the torch.

As I had never seen the town before, and did not know the names of your streets, I can give you no detailed account of the burning. After it began it was quickly done. Men plead to have their homes saved; but the women acted in a much calmer manner, after they understood the thing was inevitable; and, in some cases, excited our admiration by their courage and defiance. I saw a number of houses fired, but I saw no abuse of the citizens. Through the scenes of terror which your people passed, I have read Mr. Hoke's annals in vain to find mention of an unarmed citizen injured, or a woman insulted. Some of the men became inflamed with liquor, but I believe they were few. The most usual method of burning was to break the furniture into splinters; pile in the middle of the floor and then fire it. This was done in the beginning, but as the fire became general, it was not necessary, as one house set fire to the other. Most of the houses were vacant when fired, the occupants having fled.

When the command was given to retire, it was quickly done. One little incident which happened after we left the town will illustrate all I have said about the feeling which actuated many of our soldiers. I think it was two or three miles from the town (it may have been more or less), some of us halted for a few minutes to get a drink and perhaps something to eat. A brick farmhouse, with a porch, was located on the road, with a pump to the side of it. Not far off was what we called a Pennsylvania ‘Dutch barn,’ larger than the house. It was full of the recently gathered harvest, and bore all the evidence of a plentiful yield to a good farmer. I hitched my horse to the lightning rod on the side of the—barn next to the house, and was just returning to get him when some one cried ‘fire.’ In an instant the barn was in flames. I had hardly time to unhitch my horse. Some of our party demanded in angry tones of two troopers who came from the barn and mounted their horses, what they meant by such uncalled for vandalism. The reply was, ‘Why, d—— it, they burnt our barn,’ and on they rode.

But I am making this letter longer than necessary, and must hurry on.

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Dutch (West Virginia, United States) (1)

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