Today in History:

22 Series I Volume XLVII-I Serial 98 - Columbia Part I

Page 22 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.

and wearing apparel. I disclaim on the part of my army any agency in this fire, but, on the contrary, claim that we saved what of Columbia remains unconsumed. And without hesitation I charge General Wade Hampton with having burned his own city of Columbia, not with a malicious intent, or as the manifestation of a silly "Roman stoicism," but from folly and want of sense, in filling it with lint, cotton, and tinder. Our officers and men on duty worked well to extinguish the flames; but others not on duty, including the officers who had long been imprisoned there, rescued by us, may have assisted in spreading the fire after it had once begun, and may have indulged in unconcealed joy to see the ruin of the capital of South Carolina. During the 18th and 19th the arsenal, railroad depots, machine shops, foundries, and other buildings were properly destroyed by detailed working parties, and the railroad track torn up and destroyed down to Kingsville and the Wateree bridge, and up in the direction of Winnsborough.

At the same time the Left Wing and cavalry had crossed the Saluda and Broad Rivers, breaking up railroad about Alston, and as high up as the bridge across Broad River on the Spartanburg road, the main body moving straight for Winnsborough, which Generalon the 21st of February. He caused the railroad to be destroyed up to Black Stocks Depot, and then turned to Rocky Mont, on the Catawba River. The Twentieth Corps reached Rocky Mount on the 22d, laid a pontoon bridge, and crossed over during the 23d. Kilpatrick's cavalry followed, and crossed over in a terrible rain during the night of the 23d, and moved up to Lancaster, with orders to keep up the delusion of a general movement on Charlotte, N. C., to which General Beauregard and all the cavalry of the enemy had retreated from Columbia. I was also aware that Cheatham's corps, of Hood's old army, was aiming to make a junction with Beauregard at Charlotte, having been cut off by our rapid movements on Columbia and Winnsborough. From the 23rd to the 26th we had heavy rains, swelling the rivers and making the roads almost impassable. The Twentieth Corps reached Hanging Rock on the 26th, and waited there for the Fourteenth Corps to get across the Catawba. The heavy rains had so swollen the river that the pontoon bridge broke, and General Davis had very hard work to restore it and get his command across. At last he succeeded, and the Left Wing was all put in motion for Cheraw.

In the meantime the Right Wing had broken up the railroad to Winnsborough, and thence turned for Peay's Ferry, where it was crossed over the Catawba before the heavy rains set in, the Seventeenth Corps moving straight on Cheraw via Young's Bridge, and the Fifteenth Corps by Tiller's and Kelly's Bridges. From this latter corps detachments were sent into Camden to burn the bridge over the Wateree, with the railroad depot, stores, &c. A small force of mounted men under Captain Duncan was also dispatched to make a dash and interrupt the railroad from Charleston to Florence, but it met Butler's division of cavalry, and after a sharp night skirmish on Mount Elon was compelled to return unsuccessful. Much bad road was encountered at Lynch's Creek, which delayed the Right wing about the same length of time as the Left Wing had been at n the 2nd of March the leading division of the Twentieth Corps entered Chesterfield, skirmishing with Butler's division of cavalry, and the next day about noon the Seventeenth Corps entered Cheraw, the enemy retreating across the Pedee, and burning the bridge at that point. At Cheraw we found much ammunition and many guns which had been brought from Charleston on the evacuation of that city. These were

Page 22 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.