Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Burning Of Columbia

Marker ID: SCHM 40-188
Location: 1204 Main Street, Columbia, SC
County: Richland
Coordinates: N 34° 0.009    W 081° 2.012
  34.00015    -81.03353333
Style: Free Standing **


Burning Of Columbia

Due to Columbia's strategic value, capture of the city was an objective of the Union Army during the Carolina's Campaign of 1865. By Feb. 15 Union forces had moved to within 4 miles of the city and met opposition from Confederate skirmishes and artillery batteries. After offering a cursory defense of the city, C.S.A. commanders P.G.T. Beauregard and Wade Hampton ordered a final evacuation of Columbia on the morning of Feb. 17, 1865 and by the afternoon Union forces occupied the town.

By 1865 Columbia had become a central store of cotton in the Confederacy and as Union forces entered the city cotton bales lined much of Richardson (now Main) St. Several cotton fires were reported on the night of Feb. 16-17 and others were burning on the afternoon of Feb. 17. On the night of Feb. 17-18 fires — aided by high winds, burning cotton, and Union soldiers — destroyed much of Columbia's main commercial district and more than 450 buildings in all, a large portion of the city.

Erected by the S.C. Civil War Sesquicentennial Advisory Board, 2015