Thursday, February 17, 2011

The City Wouldn't Be Harmed

As part of Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Carolina Campaign, Columbia, South Carolina was captured on February 17th 1865.

After Savannah, Georgia fell to Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman, during his “March to the Sea”, he turned his army north to connect with Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S Grant. Sherman planned his march to go through South Carolina to Columbia, then capture and destroy the Confederate held Fayetteville, North Carolina arsenal. Sherman split his forces sending the Left Wing toward Augusta, and the Right wing toward Charleston.

Confederate General PGT Beauregard attempted to defend both cities, as long as he could. Beauregard thought he would be able to bring his forces back together if the Union changed direction and headed for Columbia. Sherman concentrated his army faster than Beauregard had expected, and arrived at Columbia on February 16th 1865. Only a small force of Confederates were defending the city. The Union Artillery sighted their cannon on the State House and fired shells into the heart of Columbia, South Carolina. Being heavily outnumbered Confederate Lieutenant General Wade Hampton evacuated the city without a fight. The Mayor of Columbia surrendered the city to Sherman, who promised nothing would be harmed on February 17th 1865. Most of Columbia was burned in a fire on the night of February 17th 1865, thought to have been set by Confederates and fanned on by drunken Union soldiers after the capture.

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