Burning of Columbia. 213
of February, and while the town was in flames, ascribed the burn- ing 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 Gene- ral Howard, sought an interview with that officer second in com- mand of the invading army and found General Sherman with him. The narrative of a part of the interview is as follows : " I handed him the paper, which he glanced at, and then, in a some- what subdued voice, but standing so near General Sherman that I think it impossible that the latter could help hearing him, he said:
- You may rest satisfied, Mrs. , that there will be nothing of
the kind happening to-night. The truth is, our men last night got beyond our control; many of them were shot; many of them 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 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 commu- nication 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 of whom, a druggist, he said, had brought a pailful of spirits to them on their arrival. Again, on our leaving the room, he expressed regret that the liquor had not been destroyed before his men entered the place ; but he never men- tioned or allued in any way to General Hampton or the cotton, nor gave the slightest intimation that they were instrumental in the destruction of the city. At that time," deposes the same wit- ness, "the universal testimony of our people was that Sherman's