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If it is meant under the “circumstances” that really existed, as it is a matter of law we will discuss it hereafter. If otherwise, it is immaterial to the case what Sherman might, could, would, or should have done.
Error No. 6. “But the proof is conclusive and overwhelming, that the burning of Columbia was not the act of General Sherman, or of the commanding officers under him.”
If this were so conclusive, it is hardly probable that so much testimony could have been taken to the contrary; and it is peculiar that Counsel should state his conclusions so broadly before alluding to the testimony. In reply, we have simply to refer to different “Briefs for Claimants," on this subject, which certainly show that the question is not absolutely conclusive.
Error No. 7. “ The testimony of General Sherman himself, first taken in the case of Joseph J. Browne, No. 37, (see depositions for defence in that case,) and again in the case of Wood & Heyworth, No. 103, (depositions for defence, pp. 59 to 117,) is conclusive upon this point."
Although we admit that General Sherman is a very good witness in his own behalf, for the reasons we have last above stated it would have been kind if Counsel had enlightened us a little more definitely as to the portions of said testimony on which he relies.
Error No. 8.
" It is quite unnecessary for the undersigned to go in detail through this testimony."
We would thoroughly agree with him, were it not that by neglecting to do so he has imposed upon us the task of correcting, and upon this Honourable Commission the labour of examining, into his unfortunate errors.
Error No. 9.
“It (the testimony) shows, that when the advance guard of Sherman's army entered the city, fires were burning in the city in various quarters; the bridge across the Congaree and the railroad depôt were in flames; lines of cotton, brought out by command of the rebel general, and piled in the streets for the express purpose of burning, as testified to by General Hampton, were found burning at different points."
We have to thank the learned counsel for informing us what the “ advance guard of Sherman's army” saw. Unfortunately for posterity and for his argument, not one individual of this advance guard has been produced as a witness. It was kind of Counsel, therefore, to tell us what was seen by them; but we regret to be compelled to say that there is no evidence to support his statement.
Error No. 10. "General Sherman and General Howard found the cotton flying from the open bales, and carried by the wind, which was blowing like a hurricane,” into the trees and upon the houses of the city.”
We have no desire to wrong the learned Counsel. Sherman did give marvellous testimony of wonderful phenomena.—Pp. 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, of “Brief for Claim,” are devoted to this subject.
Error: No. 11. They” (the advance guard, we imagine,) “ found large masses of cotton in flames, and the first efforts of the invading military force were directed towards the extinguishing of the flames. This was about 11 o'clock in the forenoon."
The testimony of numbers of witnesses is that the soldiers put their bayonets through the fire-engine hose; but this is not the principal error here.
The advance guard entered about 9 A.M.; this was about 11 o'clock in the forenoon.
Error No. 12. “ General Sherman, the commander-in-chief; General Logan, the commander of the army corps which occupied the city; Generals Hazen and Woods, the commanders of the divisions of that corps ; and General Howard, the commander of the right wing of Sherman's army, and to whom was assigned the command of the city; as well as Colonels Audenreid, Osborne, Woodhull, and Tourtelotte, all agree in ascribing the origin of the fire, and its rapid spread, to this cotton which they found burning in the streets, and flying in the air.”
Not one of these officers came in with the advance guard. They have a dozen different theories as to the origin of the fire, and as many fancies as to its rapid spread.
They have their “drunken-soldier” theory, their amazing “cotton-fly” theory, their “escaped-prisoner” theory, their “ disguised Confederate” theory, their “bud-men-of-the-army” theory, their " riotous negro” theory. With one it began in a drug store; with another at a cotton pile, where he had seen fire about six hours
before; and so we might extend the list of fancies and opinions almost ad infinitum.
Counsel, nevertheless, says they agree. He quotes not a line of their testimony. Had he, but done so, we could far more easily show where they disagree.
It is to be noted that Counsel, who is in other cases so careful with his references and quotations, here avoids them with the utmost diligence.
Error No. 13. “Captain Byers, an escaped prisoner, secreted in Columbia, saw the cotton in flames before any part of Sherman's army had entered the city.”
The undersigned were not very prepossessed with this witness, and apparently with cause, for the learned Counsel here convicts him of falsehood.
Byers says, in his deposition, p. 119, that he did not see any cotton on fire “ before the army of General Sherman entered the city;" but the learned Counsel says he did see it. Of course we believe the latter rather than the witness, and regret, notwithstanding the value of Counsel's information that we must protest against the use of it, and hold this Honourable Commission strictly to what Byers says.
Byers' testimony is analyzed at pp. 24 and 25 of our “Brief for Claim.”
Error No. 14.
Nearly twenty coloured inhabitants of Columbia testify to the fact of the cotton being on fire in the streets at different points before Sherman's army entered.”
We have in our “ Brief for Claim,” pp. 3 and 4 and p. 25, commented on their testimony. That our comments are correct, is easily seen by Counsel's argument in case of Deighen; there, misunderstanding a coloured witness, he says :
“A negro with so little intelligence, or memory, or truthfulness as to deny the presence of Confederate troops in Blackville on that day can certainly have little credit in his allegation as to the circumstances of the burning of this cotton.”
If Counsel had but quoted a word of testimony given by one of these witnesses, on the next page we would have shown a contradiction.
Cotton may have been burned on the day preceding the entry of Sherman, and although some of these witnesses testify to cotton burning on the morning of his entry, the mass of them are very indefinite in their statements.
Again, some of them make extraordinary statements. For instance, one saw stores on Main Street bursting out in flames just before Sherman entered. It is strange that this was only seen
Another says the day was calm, thereby contradicting every Federal officer.
And yet another states that the 17th was calm, and the next day windy.
But General Sherman and his officers say that the wind died out at about 3 A.M. on the 18th.
Many of them say that they saw cotton burning before Sherman's entry, but leave it for others to determine whether it was the night before or the day of said entry.
But we have stated in our “ Brief for Claim ” that it is a matter of the slightest importance whether cotton was on fire or not, as from the testimony on record it is indisputable that Sherman's troops openly, in the face of their officers, paraded the streets of Columbia with implements of incendiarism, and fired residences without hindrance.
The testimony of these same negro witnesses for the defence completely corroborates our evidence. If their testimony is to have weight, let it be thoroughly analyzed.
As to the discrepancies in evidence which we have alluded to, the length of our present argument prevents further comment or quotation.
As to the burning of the city, see Dep. for Defence, Manuel Burt Jones, p. 309
“ The houses never caught fire from this cotton, as I was in the neighbourhood of that fire all the time; and the houses never caught fire until the Yankees came in and set them on fire.
Peter Glass, p. 319 :“The fire in the city did not originate from the cotton I saw burning; that is, I did not see any building catch fire from it. After I came out of my house to look I saw fires from the lower end of the city up to Boundary Street, in the upper portion of the city. The fires here referred to were on Friday night after the entry of the army."
Robert Wellington, p. 322 :
“ The fire commenced Friday night, on Boundary-street, about three or four squares above the burning cotton.”
Gabriel Cooper, p. 320 :
“This cotton did not cause the great fire in Columbia ; the army burned the city after it came in.”
James Morgan, p. 313
"I do not think the great fire was caused by the burning of the bridge, or the depôt, or the cotton ; I do not know how it was caused. After Sherman's army came in the soldiers thereof threw the fire all over the town.”
Robert Wellington, p. 322 >
"Cotton, when burning, cannot fly about far—it becomes like powder."
Henry Williams, p. 325:-
We present these few extracts from a number which we might make use of, because Counsel attempts further in his argument to imply that these witnesses contradict all the testimony for claimants.
A few of them may do so on a single point, i.e., that cotton was on fire before Sherman entered ; the balance of their evidence, when not indefinite or self-contradictory, sustains our case.
Error No. 14. "To meet this, we have the testimony of General Hampton, in which he seeks to vindicate himself from the charge of having caused this conflagration ; but it amounts, in effect, simply to testimony that the cotton was not fired by his order, and was not burning, to his knowledge, when he left the city ; and the added testimony of some dozen or more citizens of Columbia, each saying for himself, in effect, that he had no knowledge of fires being kindled in the streets before the arrival of Sherman's army.”
By an examination of our brief it will be seen that but little of Hampton's testimony has been quoted, and that merely to show that cotton was not burned by his orders, as alleged, and that the city was surrendered peaceably.
We are perfectly content that Hampton's whole evidence should be thrown out, so far as the matter of burning cotton is concerned.
It is true he gives strong testimony as to the otherwise wellproved point that there was no cotton on fire just before Sherman's entry. Nevertheless, we are willing that it should go by the board, and save us and this Honourable Commission the labour of discussing all that Counsel has written about him on pages 14, 15, and 16 of his argument.
General Sherman grossly attacked Hampton in his depositions for defence, p. 97. In our Brief, however, we forbore from alluding to the subject.
Personal difficulties between these two men was not our