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ouse, but without doing any damage. No other fires in the town occurred until after night, when the general conflagration began. As already stated, the wind blew from the west, but the fires after night broke out first on the west of Main and Sumter streets, and to windward of where the cotton bales were placed. The cotton, it is testified and proved (Ed. J. Scott, Esq.), instead of burning the houses, was burned by them. General Sherman, as has been shown, on the night of the 17th of February, and while the town was in flames, ascribed the burning of Columbia to the intoxication of his soldiers and to no other cause. On the following day, the 18th of February, the lady to whom reference was previously made (Mrs. L. S. McCord), at the request of a friend having undertaken to present a paper to General Howard, sought an interview with that officer--second in command of the invading army — and found General Sherman with him. The narrative of a part of the interview is as follows:
February 16th (search for this): chapter 5.41
sue an order that the cotton should not be burned. The proof of this fact is to be found in the written statement of General Beauregard himself. Accordingly, and in due time, the order forbidding the burning of the cotton was issued by General Hampton and communicated to the Confederate troops. The officer then acting as General Hampton's adjutant (Captain Rawlins Lowndes) speaks as follows: Soon after General Hampton assumed command of the cavalry, which he did on the evening of the 16th of February, he told me that General Beauregard had determined not to burn the cotton, as the Yankees had destroyed the railroad, and directed me to issue an order that no cotton should be fired. This I did at once, and the same order was extended to the cavalry throughout their march through South and North Carolina. The general officer commanding the division forming the rear guard of the Confederate cavalry (General M. C. Butler) deposes: That he was personally present with the rear squadron o
February 17th (search for this): chapter 5.41
intervals, throughout the day. The Confederate forces were withdrawn and the town restored to the control of the municipal authorities on the morning of the 17th of February. Accompanied by three of the aldermen, the Mayor, between 8 and 9 o'clock A. M., proceeded in the direction of Broad river, for the purpose of surrendering tter had been received and promised protection to the town. Extraordinary license was allowed to the soldiers by General Sherman. On the afternoon of the 17th of February, and shortly after his arrival in Columbia, the Mayor of the town, at the request of General Sherman, accompanied him on a visit to a lady of his acquaintanc burn the cotton: No, the wind is high; it might catch something and give Sherman an excuse to burn the town. Between 8 and 9 o'clock on the morning of the 17th of February, deposes the Mayor, General Hampton, while sitting on his horse, observed some cotton piled not far off, in the middle of the street. He advised me to put a
February 18th (search for this): chapter 5.41
ed by them. General Sherman, as has been shown, on the night of the 17th of February, and while the town was in flames, ascribed the burning of Columbia to the intoxication of his soldiers and to no other cause. On the following day, the 18th of February, the lady to whom reference was previously made (Mrs. L. S. McCord), at the request of a friend having undertaken to present a paper to General Howard, sought an interview with that officer--second in command of the invading army — and foundem were killed; there will be no repetition of these things to-night. I assure you there will be nothing of the kind; to-night will be perfectly quiet. And it was quiet — peaceful as the grave — the ghost of its predecessor. The same day (18th of February) General Sherman, deposes the Mayor, sent for me. I went to see him about one o'clock. He met me very cordially, and said he regretted very much that our city was burned, and that it was my fault. I asked him how? He said in suffering arde<
February 16th, 1865 AD (search for this): chapter 5.41
and privates, declared that it was to be destroyed. It was, deposes a witness (Mrs. Rosa J. Meetze), the common talk among them (at the village of Lexington) that Columbia was to be burned by General Sherman. At the same place, on the 16th of February, 1865, as deposed to by another witness, Mrs. Frances T. Caughman, the general officer in command of his cavalry forces, General Kilpatrick, said, in reference to Columbia: Sherman will lay it in ashes for them. It was the general impression among all the prisoners we captured, says a Confederate officer, Colonel J. P. Austin, of the Ninth Kentucky cavalry, that Columbia was to be destroyed. On the morning of the same day (February 16, 1865) some of the forces of General Sherman appeared on the western side of the Congaree river, and without a demand of surrender, or any previous notice of their purpose, began to shell the town, then filled. with women, children and aged persons, and continued to do so, at intervals, throughout
February 17th, 1865 AD (search for this): chapter 5.41
ready published most conclusive proofs that General Sherman was responsible for the burning of Columbia; but the following report of the committee of citizens who thoroughly investigated the question, soon after the cruel destruction of their beautiful city, should go on the record as conclusively fixing the. responsibility for that act of vandalism.] The committee who were charged with the duty of collecting the evidence in relation to the destruction of Columbia by fire, on the 17th of February, 1865, submit the following report: By the terms of the resolution appointing them the committee do not feel authorized to deduce any conclusion or pronounce any judgment, however warranted by the proof, as to the person responsible for the crime. Their task will be accomplished by presenting the evidence that has been obtained with an abstract of the facts established by it. More than sixty depositions and statements in writing, from as many individuals, have been placed in the hands of
February 18th, 1865 AD (search for this): chapter 5.41
they proceeded in efforts to break the lock. While four of them were thus engaged the fifth seized me with his left hand by the collar and presenting a pistol to my breast with his right, he demanded of me my watch. I had it not about me, but he searched my pocket thoroughly, and then joined his comrades, who, finding it impracticable to force open the lock, took up the trunk and carried it away. These men (he added) were all perfectly sober. By 3 o'clock on the morning of the 18th of February, 1865, more than two-thirds of the town lay in ashes, composing the most highly improved and the entire business portion of it. Thousands of the inhabitants, including women delicately reared, young children, the aged and the sick, passed that winter night in the open air, without shelter from the bitter and piercing blast. About the hour mentioned (3 o'clock A. M.) another highly esteemed clergyman, Rev. J. Toomer Porter, personally known to General Sherman, was at the corner of a street
February 19th, 1865 AD (search for this): chapter 5.41
edecessor. The same day (18th of February) General Sherman, deposes the Mayor, sent for me. I went to see him about one o'clock. He met me very cordially, and said he regretted very much that our city was burned, and that it was my fault. I asked him how? He said in suffering ardent spirits to be left in the city after it was evacuated, saying: Who could command drunken soldiers? There was no allusion made to General Hampton, to accident, or to cotton. On the succeeding day--Sunday, February 19, 1865--the Mayor and six of the citizens visited General Sherman in order to obtain food for the subsistence of the women and children until communication could be had with the country. General Sherman, upon this occasion, talked much. In the course of his discourse, deposes one of the gentlemen (Edwin J. Scott, Esq.), he referred to the burning of the city, admitting that it was done by his troops, but excusing them because, as he alleged, they had been made drunk by our citizens, one
November, 1865 AD (search for this): chapter 5.41
d not be displeasing to him. That such was their impression we have the authority of a personage not less distinguished than the officer of highest rank in the army of the invaders next after the Commander-in-Chief himself. The proof is beyond impeachment. It comes from the honored pastor of one of our city churches, Rev. P. J. Shand, to whom reference has already been made, and it is thus expressed in his written statement in the possession of the committee: As well as I recollect, in November, 1865, I went in company with a friend to see General Howard at his headquarters, in Charleston, on matters of business. Before we left, the conversation turned on the destruction of Columbia. General Howard expressed his regret at the occurrence, and added the following words: Though General Sherman did not order the burning of the town, yet somehow or other the men had taken up the idea that if they destroyed the capital of South Carolina it would be peculiarly gratifying to General Sherma
ildren are the victims. He said: Your Governor is responsible for this. How so? I replied. Who ever heard, he said, of an evacuated city being left a depot of liquor for an army to occupy. I found one hundred and twenty casks of whiskey in one cellar. Your Governor, being a lawyer or a judge, refused to have it destroyed, as it was private property, and now my men have got drunk and have got beyond my control and this is the result. Perceiving the officer on horseback, he said: Captain Andrews, did I not order that this thing should be stopped? Yes, General, said the Captain, but the first division that came in soon got as drunk as the first regiment that occupied the town. Then sir, said General Sherman, go and bring in the second division; I hold you personally responsible for its immediate cessation. The officer darted off and Sherman bade me good evening. I am sure it was not more than an hour and a half from the time that General Sherman gave his order before the cit
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