Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Sack and Destruction of the City of Columbia, S. C. >> Chapter XI / Unsuccessful Attempts to Save Property—Females Ill-Treated—A Guard Performs His Duty—A Plucky Citizen—Families Quartered in the Streets—A Cool Proceeding—''A Big Drunk'' >> Page 21

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Journalism | Power Press of Daily Phœnix | 1865

was visited by groups, averaging in number from two to six persons. Some of these entered civilly enough, but pertinaciously entered, in some cases, begging for milk, eggs, bread and meat—in most eases, demanding them. The kitchens were entered frequently by one party, while another penetrated the dwelling, and the cook was frequently astounded by the audacity by which the turkey, duck, fowl or roast was transferred from the spit to the wallet of the soldier. In the house, parties less meek of temper than these pushed their way, and the first intimation of their presence, as they were confronted at the entrance, was a pistol clapped at the head or bosom of the owner, whether male or female.
" Your watch !"" Your money !" was the demand. Frequently, no demand was made. Rarely, indeed, was a word spoken, where the watch or chain, or ring or bracelet, presented itself conspicuously to the eye. It was incontinently plucked away from the neck, breast or bosom. Hundreds of women, still greater numbers of old men, were thus despoiled. The slightest show of resistance provoked violence to the person.
The venerable Mr. Alfred Huger was thus robbed in the chamber and presence of his family, and in the eye of an almost dying wife. He offered resistance, and was collared and dispossessed by violence.
We are told that the venerable ex-Senator, Colonel Arthur P. Hayiie, was treated even more roughly.
Mr. James Rose, besides his watch, lost largely of choice wines, which had been confided to his keeping.
But we cannot descend to examples. In the open streets the pickpockets were mostly active. A frequent mode of operating was by first asking you the hour. If thoughtless enough to reply, producing the watch or indicating its possession, it was quietly taken from hand or pocket, and transferred to the pocket of the " other gentleman," with some such remark as this : " A pretty little watch that. I'll take it myself ; it just suits me." And the appropriation followed ; and if you hinted any dislike to the proceeding, a grasp was taken of your collar and the muzzle of a revolver put to your ear. Some of the incidents connected with this wholesale system were rather amusing.
Dr. Templeton, a well known and highly esteemed citizen, passing along the street, was accosted by a couple of these experts, who stopped and asked him, pointing to the arsenal building, on the hill opposite, " What
building is that ?"
The State Arsenal," was his reply, unwisely extending his arm, as he pointed, in turn, to the building, and revealing between the folds of bis coat the shining links of a rich gold chain,