February 18, 1865: Taking care of what’s left of Columbia

Ruins of Columbia

Gen. Howard issues orders to get Columbia under control. The fires are out, and men threatening more destruction will be arrested. They’ll destroy the railroad thoroughly, as well as any public property that would be of use to the rebels. Stores will go to the army, except some to help families whose houses burned.

Official Records:

Columbia, S. C., February 18, 1865.
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II. It having been brought to the attention of the commanding general that certain lawless and evil-disposed soldiers of this command have threatened to destroy the remainder of this city with fire, it is ordered that all commanding officers and provost-marshals use the utmost vigilance by establishing sufficient guards and patrols to prevent at all cost, even to the taking the life of any refractory soldier, a recurrence of the horrors of last night. Major General F. P. Blair, commanding the Seventeenth Army Corps, will assign an officer to command of that part of the city northeast of Taylor street. To Bvt. Brigadier General W. B. Woods is assigned the command of that portion of the city southwest of Taylor street. They will appoint provost-marshals, who will be authorized to call upon the corps commander for sufficient force to prevent burning, pillaging, and all other acts subversive of good order and military discipline.

III. Captain E. N. Carpenter, Sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry Volunteers, is hereby announced as acting aide-de-camp to the major-general commanding, and will be obeyed and respected accordingly.

IV. The work of to-day will be continued to-morrow. The Fifteenth Army Corps, Major General John A. Logan commanding, will employ two divisions in breaking the railroad, and will continue to furnish similar details as those of to-day 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.

By order of Major General O. O. Howard:
Assistant Adjutant-General.

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