Friday, June 13, 2008

Bachman letter, Part 5 of 7

A letter dated Charleston September 14, 1865, written by Rev. Dr. John Bachman, then pastor of the Lutheran Church in that city, presents many facts respecting the devastation and robberies by the enemy in South Carolina. So much relates to the march of Sherman’s army through part of the state is here presented:

"All manner of expedients were now adopted to make the residence leave their homes for a second time. I heard them saying, “This is too large a house to homes for the second time. I heard them saying, “This is too large a house to be left standing, we must contrive to burn it.” Canisters of powder were placed all around the house, and an expedient resorted to that promised almost certain success.

The house was to be burned down by firing on the out buildings. These were so near each other that the firing of one would lead to the destruction of all. I had already succeeded in having a few bales of cotton rolled out of the building, and hoped if thy had to burn the rest would also be rolled out, which could have been done in ten minutes by several hundred men who were looking on, gloating over the prospect of another elegant mansion in South Carolina left to ashes.

The torch was applied and soon the large storehouse was on fire. This communicated to several other buildings in the vicinity, which, one by one were burned to the ground. At length the fire reached the smoke-house, where they had carried off the bacon of two hundred and fifty hogs. This was burned and rapidly approaching the kitchen, which was so near the dwelling-house that, should the former burn, the destruction of the large noble edifice would be inevitable.

A captain of the United States service, a native of England, whose name I would like to mention here, if I did not fear to bring sown upon him the censure of the abolitionist as a friend of the rebels, mounted on the roof, and the wet blankets we sent up to him prevented the now smoking roof from bursting into flames.

I called for help to assist us from procuring water from a deep well; a young lieutenant stepped up, condemned the infamous conduct of the burners and called on his company for aid; a portion of them came sheer fully to our assistance; the wind seemed almost by a miracle to subside; the house was saved and the trembling females thanked God for their deliverance. All this time, about one hundred mounted men were looking on refusing to raise a hand to help us; laughing at the idea that no efforts of ours could save the house from flames.