The Civil War and the Surrender of Columbia - continued
Toward the close of the Civil War, Union General William T. Sherman made his infamous march through the South. As Sherman and his troops crossed South Carolina, they pillaged and destroyed mansions, homes, barns, fields and forests. It was reported that huge columns of smoke and burnt chimneys marked his sixty mile wide path. When Sherman left Savannah most South Carolinians thought he would strike Charleston. Consequently, many citizens left Charleston for Columbia or sent their goods here for security reasons. Not until Sherman left Orangeburg in partial ruins on February 13th and turned his 20,000 troops and 250 wagons toward Columbia did most citizens realize that this city was his next target. By then all of the railway lines had been destroyed and there was no communication possible except by word of mouth.
As Sherman approached Columbia, the Congaree River Bridge was burned by the Confederates. Sherman ordered his troops to go north and cross the Saluda and Broad rivers, which were less treacherous than the Congaree. Sherman spent the night of February 16th on an island close to the present site of the Riverbanks Zoo. The following morning Union troops entered the city on what is now River Drive and proceeded to a point a mile or so from the edge of the City. Mayor T. J. Goodwyn, riding in a carriage that bore a white flag, drove north to meet them. Mayor Goodwyn surrendered the City of Columbia to the Union troops just before noon.
Following the surrender, Sherman and his men entered Columbia and remained there three days destroying many fine town houses and public buildings. The once magnificent and proud capital city of the first state to secede from the Union stood in ashes and shambles when the Union army departed on February 20.
Forty-nine years later, on February 17, 1914, The Wade Hampton Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument on the corner of River Drive and Beaufort Street at the exact location where the surrender occurred.