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 22

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Journalism | Power Press of Daily Phœnix | 1865

Before he could recover himself, his chain- and watch were in the grasp of the thief, who was preparing to transfer it to his own pocket, quietly remarking, "A very pretty little watch ; just to my liking."" That is very cool," said Templeton.
"Just my way," said the fellow, walking off.
"Stop," said Templeton, half amazed at the coolness of the proceeding, and feeling that he had only to put the best face on the matter. " Stop ; that watch will be of,no use to you without the key ; won't you take that also ?""All right," replied the robber, returning and receiving the key.
The question. " What's o'clock," was the sure forerunner of an attempt -upon your pocket. Some parties saved their chronometers by an adroitness which deserves to be made known. One individual replied to the question : " You are too late my good fellows. I was asked that question already by one ,of your parties, at the. other corner." He left them to infer that the watch was already gone, and they passed him by.
We are told of one person who, being thus asked for the time of day by three of them, in- a street in which_ he could see no other of their, comrades, thrust a revolver suddenly into their faces, and cocking it quickly, cried out; " Look for yourselves." They sheered off and left him.
We, ourselves, were twice asked the question the morning after the fire, and looking innocently to where the City Hall clock once stood, replied, " Our city clock is gone, you see ; but it must be near 11."
Mr. J. K. Robinson was assailed with the same question by a party in the neighborhood of his house. He denied that he had a watch. " Oh ! look, look !" was the answer of the questioner.
I need not look," quoth Robinson, " since I have not a watch."" Look, look—a man of your appearance must own a watch. ""'Well, I do ; but, it is at my home—at my. house."" Where's your house ? We'll go and see."
He took them into his house, suddenly called his guard and said, " These men are pursuing me ; I, know not what they want."
The guard drove out the party, with successive thrusts at them of the bayonet, and from ,the street, defrauded of their spoils, they saluted house guard and owner. with all manner of horrid execrations.
-Hundreds of like anecdotes are told, not merely of loss in watches, but of every other article of property. Hats and boots, overcoats and. shawls—these, when new and attractive, were sure to be taken. Even the negroes were despoiled, whenever the commodity was of any value.
An incident occurred, which, though amusing to read of, could not have