Sunday, February 2, 2014

150-years-ago -- CHARLESTON, S.C. UNDER FIRE

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Feb. 1, 1864
Charleston, South Carolina. Ruins of Circular church,
 St. Philips Church in the distance.
(Library of Congress)

           A correspondent of the Augusta, (Ga.) Constitutionalist, writing from Charleston, gives the following picture of that city under the bombardment of the enemy:
           The limited destruction of property by the protracted rain of shells, is as wonderful as the small loss of life. I walked through the streets where the effect of the she is is most apparent. Here a cornice is knocked off, there is a small round hole through the side of a building, and at remote intervals the earth is torn where a shell exploded, and looks like the work of a porker in search of some hidden treasure. Venders of the staples of the market sit serenely by their little stores, unmindful of the pyrotechnic salutations of their Yankee deliverers. I bought delicious apples and cakes at one-fourth the price charged two hundred miles away in the interior, where abundance and extortion seems to go hand in hand.
            In reply to a question if she were not afraid, one of these old women replied, "Lor mars, we no feered now — we's used to em. Dey make lig noise and fro trash all about — dat's all — de good Lord pertects us." Thus is the reliant trust of these people exemplified even in the spirit of this simples African. I confess that I could not feel thus indifferent to these missiles of destruction, and as they came screaching across the bay, I felt an instinctive inclination to change my base of observation. Extending my ramble to other portions of the city, the track of shells was here and there discernable, but they have not effected a tithe of the injury sustained by the great fire of two years ago, whose blackened outline stretches across what was once the heart of the city. In only two or three instances have fires been occasioned by them, and then the loss was rifling. In localities most exposed to the shells the old tide of business is suspended.
Unidentified soldier in South Carolina
 militia uniform with sword and pistols.
(Library of Congress}
          Here and there a pedestrian moves hurriedly along, and the rattle of a cart or dray is heard for a whole square. The blinds are closed, vases of rare exotics droop and on the lonely window sill, because there is no tender hand to twine or nourish them. The walk glistens with fragments of glass, rattled thither by the concussion of exploding shells, and little tufts of bright green grass are stringing up along the pave once vocal with the myriad tongues of busy trade. If this be food for exultation to the malovelent foe, he is welcome to the tender morsel. I do not mean to say that any part of the city is abandoned. Here and there stores are opened, machine shops are active, and labor incident to the public defence is pushed vigorously forward, even in the most exposed districts. Still many branches of ordinary business, and most of the residents are removed, because it would be foolhardy for those not impelled by special duty to remain.
          The Mills House and Charleston Hotel — those princely abodes of comfort and good cheer are closed; the Pavillion still invites the sojourner to its hospitable roof; most of the habitues of Hayne and parts of Meeting and King streets abandoned the merchant's desk for the camp, or transferred their wares to points secure from Yankee guns.--That part of the city to which the cowardly vengeance of the toe has not penetrated is "a map of busy life" The newspapers, post office, express office, banks, and many business houses are in successful operation, and streets present a scene of animation not at all suggestive of a state of siege.

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