11 August 2007
All my poor, hungry children, time will break the world...
--from the Richmond Whig, 4/4/1865
At sunrise on Monday morning, Richmond presented a spectacle that we hope never to witness again. The last of the Confederate officials had gone; the air was lurid with the smoke and flame of hundreds of houses sweltering in a sea of fire.
The streets were crowded with furniture, and every description of wares, dashed down to be trampled in the mud or burned up, where it lay. - All the government store houses were thrown open, and what could not be gotten off by the government, was left to the people, who everywhere ahead of the flames, rushed in, and secured immense amounts of bacon, clothing, boots, &c.
Next to the river, the destruction of property has been fearfully complete. The Danville and Petersburg Railroad depots, and the buildings and shedding attached thereto. For the distance of half a mile from the north side of Main street to the river, and between 8th and 15th streets, embracing upwards of twenty blocks, presents one waste of smoking ruins, blackened walls and broken chimnies.
After the surrender of the city, and its occupation by Gen. Weitzel about 10 o’clock, vigorous efforts were set on foot to stop the progress of the flames. The soldiers reinforced the fire brigade, and labored nobly, and with great success. The flames east on Main street, were checked by the blowing up of the Traders’ Bank about noon.
The flames gradually died out at various points as material failed for it to feed upon; but in particular localities the work of destruction went on until towards 3 or 4 o’clock, when the mastery of the flames was obtained, and Richmond was saved from utter desolation.