Friday, November 2, 2012

“The fall of Plymouth led to the Federal evacuation of [Little] Washington. [General Robert F.] Hoke laid siege to Washington on April 27 [1864], but he made no efforts to storm the defenses since reports indicated that the enemy was abandoning the place. Unfortunately for the local citizens, while Hoke bided his time for three days, the evacuating Federal troops thoroughly sacked the town.

On the evening of April 26, [the enemy commander] received orders to evacuate his base….[and] during the afternoon of the twenty-seventh there were some instances of theft, and before morning pillaging commenced. “Government stores, sutler’s establishments, dwelling houses, private shops, and stables suffered alike. Gangs of men patrolled the city, breaking into houses and wantonly destroying such goods as they could not carry away. The occupants and owners were insulted and defied in their feeble indeavors to protect their property.”

This lawlessness lasted until 4:00 P.M. of the thirtieth, when the last of the [enemy] troops boarded steamer for New Bern. As these final detachments prepared to embark, fires broke out in town. The flames quickly spread from the riverfront warehouses to the northern limits of Washington, and before the conflagration could be brought under control fully one-half of the town lay in ashes.

When the Confederate troops finally entered Washington, they found it a “ruined City….a sad scene – mostly….chimneys and Heaps of ashes to mark the place where Fine Houses once stood, and the Beautiful trees, which shaded the side walks, Burnt, some all most to coal.”

(The Civil War in North Carolina, John G. Barrett, UNC Press, 1963, pp. 220-221)

Photo: Unidentified NC soldier...

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