The Burning of Columbia My Opinion "The Only One That Counts" I was born (1947), raised, and educated in Columbia. The capture of Columbia occurred February 17–18, 1865, during the Carolinas Campaign of the American Civil War.The state capital of Columbia, South Carolina, was captured by Union forces under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman.Much of the city was burned although it is not clear which side caused the fires. Some cotton bales continued to smolder during the day, and the high winds whipped them into a blaze as well that evening, spreading more embers around. ←View all Exhibits The Burning of Columbia New users are encouraged to read this brief introduction to the site.. . Who burned Columbia. Emma, then seventeen years old, kept a diary for several months in 1865 chronicling the approach, occupation and burning of the city of Columbia by General Sherman's troops. An attack upon the town, either by fording the river, which may be possible, or by shelling Columbia, is apprehended to night. Retreating confederates set cotton on fire, and the burning embers were carried by the wind. There has been much written about the burning of the city of Columbia, and who in fact was actually responsible for the conflagration. Panelists talked about the burning of Columbia, South Carolina, during the Civil War, and how the event has been remembered by the city and in history. As the best evidence tells us, the destruction of Columbia was a tragic accident. When you hear or read about the burning of Columbia, General Sherman’s principal target in South Carolina, you are often told that the origin of the fire is a historical mystery that can’t be conclusively solved, or that the fires were actually initiated by the evacuating Confederate troops, or even by the citizens of Columbia themselves—none of which is true. The fire official shall have the right to revoke a permit for opening burning for any violation of the above regulations, or if the open burning creates or adds to a hazardous or objectionable situation. -- The bridge is still burning. The burning of those works, the order to burn Preston's house, the destruction of Mrs. English's, Latta's, and hosts of other houses and the utter devastation of tho whole country from Columbia to North Carolina, makes him one of the most ruthless invaders that ever cursed the earth by his presence'. On February 16, Sherman issued an order giving instructions for the occupation of Columbia. Many people believe Sherman, architect of the burning of Atlanta and the scorched-earth policy of the March through Georgia, ordered Columbia to be burned. This is the text of William Gilmore Simms's late-1865 pamphlet, The Sack and Destruction of the City of Columbia, S.C. 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