Christopher Check’s review of W.G. Simms’ A City Laid Waste: The Capture, Sack, and Destruction of the City of Columbia (“Total War,” September) was an excellent consideration of that volume’s importance in current topical terms. If Southerners were allowed to know the true story of the invasion and burning of the civilian South by U.S. troops, then maybe they would be the first to question invasions elsewhere today. That is another reason why Southerners especially should read Simms’ account of the burning of Columbia and the civilian atrocities committed there. Dr. Brian Cisco’s new book, War Crimes Against the South (Pelican), is a good volume to supplement Simms. It corroborates on a large scale the truth of what Simms writes.
No moral person could defend raping, burning, and looting Columbia, as described by Christopher Check in his review of A City Laid Waste. However, South Carolina herself had sown the seeds of the destruction of her capital.
It was South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks who caned Sen. Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts abolitionist, in 1856. In 1861, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union and also captured...