Saturday, February 18, 1865

Columbia, South Carolina Fortunately, about 3 or 4 a.m. this morning the wind moderated, and gradually the fire in Columbia was got under control; but it had burned out the very heart of the city, embracing several churches, the old State-House, and the school or asylum of that very Sister of Charity who had appealed for my personal protection. Nickerson’s Hotel, in which several of my staff were quartered, was burned down, but the houses occupied by myself, Generals Howard and Logan, were not burned at all. The morning sun rose bright and clear over a ruined city. About half of it was in ashes and in smouldering heaps. Many of the people were houseless, and gathered in groups in the suburbs, or in the open parks and spaces, around their scanty piles of furniture. General Howard, in concert with the mayor, Doctor Goodwyn, did all that was possible to provide other houses for them; and by my authority he turned over to the Sisters of Charity the Methodist College. I placed Colonel Baylor, chief of ordnance in charge of the Confederate arsenal, and directed General Howard to send a detail of 500 men to aid in its destruction.

The Fifteenth Army Corps, Major General John A. Logan commanding, was directed to employ two divisions in breaking the railroad, and continue to furnish similar details as those of today for the purpose of completing the destruction of public property. Care will be taken that every part of the rolling-stock is rendered perfectly useless. The Seventeenth Army Corps, Major General F. P. Blair commanding, will continue the work on the same town. Before the destruction of the store buildings at the depot the chief commissary of subsistence of the department will supply the army with such stores as he may find, such as salt, wheat, &c. He will furnish what salt is necessary for the Columbia Hospital, and the surplus he will have saved for the poorer citizens who have been burned out. The bridge train will be moved up during the day and parked in rear of the Seventeenth Army Corps beyond the limits of the city.

General CR Woods has the situation under control:

I have ordered that every enlisted man found on the streets after 5 o’clock this evening (unless on duty) without the written pass of his division commander to be arrested and placed in confinement. I am confident the scenes of last night will not be repeated.

Hazen offers captured arms and equipment for distribution:

I have in charge, at the Citadel where the South Carolina Military School was kept, a large quantity of infantry and artillery ammunition; parts of gun carriages; guns, large and small; cavalry equipments; tools, and a large amount of other property useful to the service, which all portions of the army needing the same are requested to call for and approprate. The officer in charge is directed to recognize all requisitions, however informal.

Slocum’s Left Wing is short of forage:

The attention of all officers is called to Special Field Orders from headquarters of the army, prohibiting the transportation of tents, except one for brigade headquarters and upward. An immediate and rigid enforcement of this order is expected. All surplus tents and every pound of baggage not authorized by regulations and existing orders, will at once be burned or abandoned. A portion of the army has recently marched ten days through a country yielding but little forage, and following this march it has been compelled to remain at one point nearly two days. The result has been that portions of the command have been utterly destitute of forage and the animals have suffered severely. We have got a long and arduous march to make with almost an absolute certainty of being delayed several days at one point on our line, and that, too, in a section which will probably yield but the small supplies for either man or animals. Under these circumstances the importance of collecting supplies as rapidly as possible, and of making an econimical use of them, must be apparent to all. The stores now on hand will be placed in as few wagons as possible, and all wagons obtained either by this method or by the abandonment of tents and private baggage, will at once be loaded with such subsistence stroes and forage as can be obtained in the country. At least six days’ forage should, if possible, be kept constantly on hand. All disabled and worthless mules and horses will at once be shot. No person, white or black, not connected with the army will be permitted to accompany either column at the slightest risk of embarrassment to our future operations.

General Davis Writes while stuck at Freshly’s Ferry, Wateree Creek:

Please inform the general that I am completely disappointed and thoroughly disgusted. The bridge is not yet done, and the commander of the pontoon train has proved himself a complete failure. The boats, as I before informed you, have run out before reaching the opposite shore, and now (the eleventh hour) this officer is in doubt whether or not the remaining distance can be trestled. Please ask the general to have about ten boats forwarded from the rear as soon as possible. Cheatham is crossing with a force estimated at 13,000 men. Kilpatrick is at Alston, and reports the enemy crossing above Alston

Pontoons were sent and General Davis has effected a crossing over the Broad River at Freshly’s, just below the mouth of Wateree Creek. He will commence crossing his trains today about 12 m.

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