Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 14: No 1) >> Verification of Simms's Account of the Burning of Columbia >> Page 36

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Page 36

Illustrations | 2006
Transcription Images Common to Simms and SCWC

The night-time procession of families and the women and girls displaced from the Ursuline
convent and school, their spending the night on Assembly street or among the tombs in the
graveyards, watching Columbia burning around them (Simms 59-61; SCWC 295-96, 302-303).

The alien cityscape of scorched chimneys that appeared when the burning had ended—all familiar
landmarks erased:

"On every side ruins, and smoking masses of blackened walls, and towers of grim, ghastly
chimneys, and between, in desolate groups, reclining on mattress, or bed, or earth, were
wretched women and children, gazing vacantly on the site of a once blessed abode of home
and innocence" (Simms 75).

"We entered the city from the Main street road, our way being marked with desolation and
ruin on all sides. One solitary house is all that is left upon that whole street above the
State House. Turning out of that street, we lost our bearings in the surrounding mass of
brick and ashes. There are few landmarks left in the heart of the city to enable the
wayfarer to distinguish one locality from another" (Malvina Waring, SCWC 287).

"Oh! The utter, utter desolution [sic] of a city in ashes, and its people wanderers! Even the
very landmarks were lost, and you stood a stranger on your own threshold. Nothing was
left but the smokeless chimneys, keeping ward over the widespread ruin" (Mrs. S.A.
Crittenden, SCWC 331).

Works Cited

Simms, William Gilmore. The Sack and Destruction of the City of Columbia, S. C. To Which is Added a
List of the Property Destroyed. Columbia, SC: Power Press of Daily Phoenix, 1865. rd ed. Ed.
A. S. Salley. [Atlanta]: Oglethorpe UP, 1937.

Taylor, Mrs Thomas, et al. South Carolina Women in the Confederacy. Columbia: The State, 1903.

Theodore R. Davis, "The Ruins of Columbia, South Carolina--Richardson
Street, Looking toward the Capitol." Harper's Weekly Magazine, 21 July 1865.
Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library.