My Hometown Put To The Torch by the Yankees
Charles L McCain
After the Yankees burned down my hometown of Orangeburg, South Carolina in February of 1865, local people were mad. One hundred years later when I grew up in Orangeburg, the local people were still mad. Not the same ones, of course. Just local people in general.
Seems that the telegraph line and rail line between Columbia and Charleston ran through Orangeburg so the town was seized by Union troops under the command of General Sherman. These soldiers burned all the public buildings including he courthouse and the jail.
Early in the war, the able bodied men of the area had formed the Edisto Rifles and had gone off to join what later became the famed Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General Robert E. Lee. So when the Yankees showed up, only a handful of troops drawn from the local militia were available to defend the town.
They dug in along the bank of the Edisto River,which runs through Oangeburg, and held off the entire Union Army for a few days. Then they fell back toward Columbia. There was a lot of falling back in those days.
Besides burning down the public building, General Sherman quartered his horses in the Presbyterian Church. This was one damn thing too many and everyone talked about this when I grew up. Even my later mother, not one to get to worked up over the Confederacy, used to become annoyed when she thought about this.
My mother was a devout Presbyterian and Presbyterians do not quarter their horses in churches. Ever. Occasionally she would look at me and say, “can you imagine? He put his horses in the church!” Not that we worshiped in that particular building. It had been torn down decades prior and a was replaced by a new Presbyterian Church in the 1920s so it wasn’t even the same building. That didn’t matter.
Ironically, one of the reasons for Sherman’s infamous campaign of destruction on his “March to the Sea”, was to make it so bad that Southerners would remember this for generations and never foment rebellion again. And we did remember it. And we never fomented rebellion again. Instead, we have concentrated on driving the Yankees nuts. And we have.