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Beauregard's and Hampton's orders on Evacuating Columbia — letter from Colonel A. R. Chisolm.

[The following letter from a gallant officer of General Beauregard's staff seems to settle beyond question the character of the orders given when the Confederates evacuated Columbia.]

New York, March 23, 1879.
Rev. J. William Jones, D. D., Secretary Southern Historical Society, Richmond, Va.:
My Dear Sir — I have read in the April number of the Society Papers Colonel James Wood Davidson's communication relative to the burning of Columbia by General Sherman, and it may be a matter of interest in future that I inform you of what took place between Generals Beauregard and Hampton on the evening previous to the evacuation of that city. As Aid-de-Camp to General Beauregard I was the only officer present with the two Generals. Beauregard had arrived late in the day from Charleston. Late in the evening Hampton called on him at the hotel, and after stating the condition of affairs in his front and arranging for the evacuation of the place early the following day, the matter of disposing of the large quantity of cotton piled in the streets was discussed. General Beauregard immediately said that it should on no account be burnt, for by doing so it would only endanger the city; that all railroad communication with the coast was cut off and the enemy could not remain long enough to remove it; whereas, if saved, it would be of much value to the citizens. It was then determined that orders should be issued by General Hampton that none of the cotton should be burnt; this was carried out, as appears by the affidavit of Captain Rawlins Lowndes, who was his Adjutant [250]

The explosion which took place at the railway depot on the out-skirt of the town, about daylight on the morning of the evacuation, was caused by men sleeping among ammunition stored there. The depot alone was destroyed and no fire spread from it. I visited the spot before leaving the city, which I did about nine A. M., as the enemy were entering the town.

An officer of General Sherman's staff (Major Murray), now attached to the New York Herald's editorial corps, informed me several years ago that he went to General Sherman and begged him to stop his soldiers from burning the city, and that he turned a deaf ear to him. I furnished General Hampton with the name of this officer at the time, as he authorized me to do so.

Yours, truly,

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