Newspaper Page Text
who?lv d<*fi-iu-?xs no'attemptwo^jd b< j
made to defend, vise event ot^sunimens,
if would bo ?um.-iuie i >-d npun ii:-- Myal Jenna* j
and runt, tit ?se von. i i: %:;?-KM?V?IS? >:>.. l
safety of non-eonibatants und pwteewtheir
property. * "
?But, in tr ts tb,-th er* wa? no small potl?i>n,of
tie inhabitants who denied or doubted, almos;,,
to the iast moment, that the enemy contem?
plated any" serious demonstration upr?n thc
city Tiiey assumed-and this idea was tacitly
encouraged, if ifbt believed, by the authorities,
military ano civil-that the movement on Co?
lumbia M as but a feint, and that the bulk of
Sherman's army was preparing for a descent
upon Charleston.. This also seemed to be the
opinion in Charleston itself, it wes under?
stood, or so reported, id Columbia, that the
force pressing upon our troops in this direction
''consisted of but 6,000 men, while, to oppose
' them, we bed T,000.
- - VI. *
All these conjectures were speedily set at
r.est, when, on the 13th February, (Monday.)
the enemy was reported to he.ve reached a
point in Lexington District., some ten milos
above Jeffcoat's. On toe. 14th, their ?progress
brought; them, to Thom's Creek, the stream next
below Congaree Creek, and about tvelve miles
K below the city. Here our troops, consisting of
the mouctcd gunmen of Hamptcn, "Wheeler,
Butler. Ac, made^tubborn head against them,
holding them in check by constant skirmishing.
This skirrnishir.gcontinucd throughout Wednes- '
day, but failed to arrest tho enemy's progress;
and as their cannon continued momently to
sound more heavily upon our ears, we w'ere
but too certainly assured of the hope'essness
. of the struggle. The odds of foice against us
were too v. t for any valor 6r generalship to
make head against it; and yet, almost to this
moment, the hope was held out to the people,
in many quarters, that the city could be saved.
It was asserted that the corps of Cheatham and
Stewart were Making foiecd marches, with the j
view to a junction with the troops under Beau?
regard, and, such waa the spirit of our troops,
and one of the generals at least, that almost at
thc moment when 'Sherman's advance wa3 en?
tering tue town, Hampton's cavalry was in
order of battle, and only waiting the command
to charge it. Uut the horrors of a street fight
in a defenceless city, filled with. Women and
. children, wero prudently avoided; and. our
gallant troops were drawn off from the scene
at the very hour wben the enemy were enter?
ing upon it. Bt?ve anticipate.
I "Whatever hopes might have been entertained
df the ultimate suc/ess ot our defences, they
were all dissipated, when, by daylight, on the
ICtb, (Thursday,) ou;- troops re-entered the city,
huming the several bridges ever the Congare?.-,
tlie Broad and Saluda Rivers." They were
quar red .through the day about tho several
stte: s, and along their several bivouacs they
dug slight exeavatie-jK in the eaji'tli, as for rilli
which fell fast and thick about the'.own. They
iliad commenced shelling the even ?pg before,
j and .con?iatie? it throughout tho night. Ap
summons tor ssmn 1er had been made; no
'.vnriiinjr d' any kind was gives-. The. shell? g
continued throughout the dav, and new battu
l ies \vr.-re iii rapid progress of ?rection on the
Westside of the Godgaree, the more effectually
to press tia work of"destruction. The damage
"was.comparatively slight. The rew capitol
buildirtg was struck live times, but suffered
little or no injury. Numerous ?hells fell into the
inhabit^ portions cf the town, yet wc hear of
only tr o pei ;?ns killed-one on the hospital
square, and another near the South Carolina
Railroa'd Depot. The venerable Mr. S. J.
Wagner, from Char]??, ton, an : ged citizen of
ncr eighty, narrowly escaped with life, a
shell bursting at his-rteet. His lace was exco
rimed by the fragments, aid. for awhile his
eye-sight was lost; but we are happy to state
that the hurts were slight, and he is now as
well ?is ever. \ "
On We<kicsd;iy, the l?i?h, ine city was placed
under mnr'i..l law, and the. authority couhded
j to (?on. E. M. Law. With characteristic energ}-,
this officer executed tis trusts, et:d WHS em?
ployed day and night in the maintenance of
or<frc*r: This, with some Yew exceptions, was
surprisingly maintained. It was indeed, won?
derful, that, with so many soldiers in town,
with so much confusion among the people,
there should have been ?0 little disorder. There
I was some riotous conduct after night. Some
hig.way robberies were committed, and some
few stores"bioken open and robbed. But, be?
yond these instances, there were but few in?
stances of crime, and none of insubordination.
Terrible, meanwhile, was tue press, the shock,
the rush, the hurry, the universal confusion
such as might naturally be look?d for, in the
circumstances of the city from which thou?
sands were preparing to fly, without previous
preparations for night*-burdened with pale
and trembling women, their children and pcrt
abiefa?attels-trunks and jewels, family Bibles
and nje lares familiares. Tjic railroad depot
for Charlotte was crowded with anxious waitera
upon the train-with a wilderness of luggage
-millions, perhaps, in value-much of which
^as left finally and lost. Throughout Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday, these scenes of
struggle .vere in constant performance. The
citizens fared, badly. Tho Governments of the
Stall and of the Confederacy absorbed" all ??lie
mooes CI conveyance. Transportation about thc
city could not. oe hail, save by a rich or favored
| lew. 2,o love couid persuade where- money
failcd to convince, and SELF, growing bloated ia
its dimensions, stared one from every hurrying
aspecr, as };ou traversed the excited and crowd?
ed s .ree>'. in numerous iustances, those wno
succeeded in get? .: 3 away did so at the cost of
trunks and luggage; arid, under what discom?
fort : t..-.-y departed, ho one who did not see
cas'rcrv-Vty conceive, :
Tho end YOU?, rapidly approach i n g. The
enemy's th nu de rs were resounding af. the ^?hen
Defence -was impossible. At "a late hour on
Thursday night, the Governor, with Ids suite
and a lai^e train of officials, departed. The
army began its evacuation, and by ?foylight
few remained who were not resignel to the
necessity. of seeing the tragedy played out.
After aft the depletion, the city contained, ac?
cording to our estimate, at least 20,000 inhabit?
ants, the larger^ proportion bcinir females and
children aaid negroes. Hampton's cavalry, as
we have already mentioned, lingered tilPnear
1-0 o'clock the next day, and scattered groups of
Wheeler's command hovered about the^pnemy
at their entrance into the towu.
The inhabitants were startled at daylight,
on Friday morning, by a heavy exDlosion. This
was the South Carolina Railroad Depot. It
was accidentally blown up. . Broken open by
a band of plunderers, mostly low persons,
among whom werc tnany fem'ales ana* negroes,
their reckless greed precipitated their ?ate.
This building had been made the receptacle of
supplies from sundry quarters, arid was crowd?
ed with stores ot merchants aud planters,
trunks of treasure, innumerable wares and
goods of fugitives-all of great value. It ap?
pears that, among its contente, were some kegs
of powder.' The robbers paid, aad suddenly, the
penalties of their crime. Using their light?
freely and- hurriedly, the better to pick, as they
stole they fired a train of powder leading to
the kegs. The explosion followed, and the
number of 'lersons destroyed is vaiiously esti?
mated, from seventeen to fifty. It is probable
that not more than thirty-five suffered, but the
actual number, perishing is, to this moment,
At au early hour on Friday, the commissary
and quartermaster stores were thrown wide,
the contents cast out into tlfe streets and giv<p
to the people. The negroes especially loaded
themselves with plunder. All this might
have beeu saved, had the" yoliicers' been duly
warned by the military authorities of the pro?
bable issue ot the struggle. Wheeler's cavalry
also shared largely of this plunder, and several
of them might be seen, even to the hour of the
enemy's arrival, bearing off huge bales upon
their saddl .3.
It was proposed that the white flag should
be displayed from the tower of thc City Hall.
But Geu. Hampton, whose command had not
yet left the city, and who was still eager to do
battle in its defence, indignantly declared that
if displayed, he should have it torn down. Up.
to this moment, his resolve was to fight the
enemy in the streets, and, anxious to the last
to try the effect of a charge upon the enemy's
advance, he slowly retired from the city.
The following letter from the Mayor to Gen.
Sherman was the initiation of the surrender:
COLUMBIA, S. C., February. 17, 1865.
To MAJOR-GJR?EBAL'SUEK.'I.W; The Confede