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South Carolina
God has filled my cup with grief....
South Carolina

Captain W. Allston Gibbs
Company D
Sixteenth South Carolina
Lt. Benjamin Gibbs
Company D
Sixteenth South Carolina

"My South how I love thee"
Music by Dayle K.

Our thanks to Greg Ballentine, descendant, for the following letter.

Columbia, March 14, 1865

My Dear Allston,

Our beautiful city is now a mass of ruins - 1350 houses on 84 squares, all the heart of the city, were burned.

Sherman told the Mayor on entering that private property would not be disturbed - hence I made no effort to save anything. They commenced burning in the afternoon, Gen. Hamptonís house being the first. As soon as it became dark, fires were seen in the country all around - giving the lie to Shermanís statement.

After seven P.M. some cotton in Main Street was set on fire and the wind being high flames spread all around - the houses were fired. About 10 P.M. an orderly came to my house and said the fire was accidental and that the Gen. said if our servants were turned out the fire could be stopped. They cajoled us - our stores were then burning. The flames became a tornado of fire and we were surrounded. My house was saved outwardly by buckets of water on the roof - about 12, the villains came into the house and set fire in my parlor. I turned a Yankee Negro out, setting fire. Then I took a torch of fire from a soldier trying to push it through the window of the basement. He leaped at me and jeered - Robt. McCulloch took up the fire in the parlor and threw it out - a Yankee jerked him and said let the damned house burn. I then gave up and left the house - but as they took away everything of value in the streets I carried nothing out but a bag with my bonds and money. I saved only the suit I had on. Everything was destroyed. - I did not save a single picture. McCulloch saved little DeVeauxís bust. All my clothes were stolen and Miss Elliottís trunk of silver broken open and robbed. Seventeen days after the fire I dug up what was buried under the bricks. Carolineís and Mary Thomasís silver being in wooden boxes was burned and much melted and destroyed - but my silver being in a tin box was saved. What was buried for Mary was all burned. Your dear Maís jewelry and mine in a wooden box were all burned. My sword and canes were destroyed. My brandy and rum burst and the wine boiled. We found the fires still burning and the bottles were too hot to be handled. I saved about 100 out of 250 bottles - about half of it is sound, the rest vinegar.

My pony was taken.

July and Sims went off with the Yankees and Henry (from the printing office) was carried off - he sent word to Nancy he would come back if he could - but so far has not come. The other Negroes behaved well.

Jacob came home and brought your knapsack. There are a few unimportant papers in it and a few clothes. Mary lost everything, so did Robert and Jas. Wilson. Jamesís house was saved by almost a miracle - after he had left it to burn. Thank God we have a shelter there.

They took corn from Moultrie but did not burn his place. Moultrie and Lewis were captured by Kilpatrick and paroled. He and Mary are at home and Hasell and Alice are there. Hattie is away from home and I am going to Newberry for her. I have been very sick and not well enough to go for her as the weather is very bad.

Thomas is here and will carry Mary and the children to Spartanburg next week - as the Gov. intends the cadets to remain there. I am undecided what I will do. I will stay with James for the present.

My horses have got back safely.

The city is in a deplorable state and our people seem to be demoralized and have no spirit - they seem all desirous of stealing anything they can get hold of.

Negroes were robbed by the Yankees but they still have quantities of plunder. Committees have been around and collected much stolen property. Yesterday it was expected to be claimed and crowds claimed everything. Some things had a dozen claimants. Ladies were ready to swear to buttons and tape and spools of cotton! Some of them who had lost nothing actually claimed lots of things.

I have succeeded in getting Gen. Hamptonís buggy and his fine china - most of it. The burning was like clock work. Towards morning Sherman seemed to get ashamed of his villainy and ordered out a division to stop the fire and in an hour it was stopped. If he had chosen it could have been done at 7 P.M. but he meant to burn the city.

The college library and buildings there are saved. The female academy and fem. college saved. Prestonís house was saved by the Nuns going into it. The old capitol burned - the new not much injured.

Susanís and Mr. Singletonís, Mayrantís, Sandersí and H. Greenís houses saved - Sandersí out buildings burned.

James Guignardís corn and horses and mules were taken but his place was not burned. All of Sanders house Negroes in town went to the Yankees - Mayrant lost 16, a great many went. Some have come back.

I will send Dr. Gibbon $200.00 by first private opportunity.

Today (14th) is the anniversary of our dear Bennieís death. Little did I suppose that ere it arrived your dear mother would be resting beside him in the dreary grave. God has filled my cup of grief to overflowing and sad and desolate is my poor heart. The world seems now a blank to me. All the associations of my life seem gone and cheerless is the prospect of the future to my weary spirit. God give me consolation! He seems to have taken your dear mother to save her from the dreadful scenery we have waded through. God bless you and protect you. Write when you can.

Yr. Affte. Father, R.W.G.

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