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[423] for pontoons. But no force capable of offering resistance was near, and the national columns approached from several directions. Sherman himself was the first to cross the pontoon bridge, and about noon, on the 17th of February, he rode into the capital of South Carolina.

Hampton had ordered all cotton, public and private, to be moved into the streets and fired.1 Bales were piled up everywhere, the rope and bagging cut, and the tufts of cotton blown about by the wind, or lodged in the trees and against the houses, presented the appearance of a snow-storm. Some of these piles of cotton were burning in the heart of the town. Sherman, meanwhile, had given orders to destroy the arsenals and public property not needed by his army, as well as railroad stations and machines, but to spare all dwellings, colleges, schools, asylums, and ‘harmless private property’; and the fires lighted by Hampton were partially subdued by the national soldiers. But before the torch had been put to a single building by Sherman's order, the smouldering fires set by Hampton were rekindled by the wind and communicated to the buildings around. About dark the flames began to spread, and were soon beyond the control of the brigade on duty in the town. An entire division was now brought in, but it was found impossible to check the conflagration, which by midnight had become quite unmanageable. It raged till about four A. M. on the 18th, when the wind subsided, and the flames were got under control.

Sherman was abroad till nearly morning, and Howard, Logan, Wood—his highest generals—were

1 Sherman's Report.

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