Photograph of Main Street from the Statehouse in Columbia after Sherman's March, February 1865

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Document Description:

This image shows the ruins of Richardson Street (now Main Street) in Columbia following the burning of the city on February 17, 1865.  The fire, which is often associated with the march of William Tecumseh Sherman and his Union troops through the city, likely resulted from a combination of the burning of cotton bales by Confederate troops as they fled the city, drunken federal soldiers in the streets, and environmental conditions that allowed the blaze to spread unchecked.  Nearly one third of the city, including business and residential districts, had been burned to the ground.  South Carolinians faced the period of Reconstruction with great loss and anxiety for the future, which for them meant physical rebuilding as well as adjustment to new political and social orders.  Many were bitter and resentful of the United States government.  With the promise of freedom, however, former slaves looked to this period as a time of hope and empowerment.


"View From the Statehouse After Sherman’s March Through Columbia." Photograph.  1865.  South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. 

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the events that led to the Civil War, the course of the War and Reconstruction, and South Carolina’s role in these events.

Indicator 3-4.6 Explain how the Civil War affected South Carolina’s economy, including destruction of plantations, towns, factories, and transportation systems.

Standard 8-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Civil War—its causes and effects and the major events that occurred during that time.

Indicator 8-3.6 Compare the effects of the Civil War on daily life in South Carolina, including the experiences of plantation owners, women, Confederate and Union soldiers, African Americans, and children

Standard 8-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the impact of Reconstruction on the people and government of South Carolina.

Indicator 8-4.1 Explain the purposes of Reconstruction with attention to the economic, social, political, and geographic problems facing the South, including reconstruction of towns, factories, farms, and transportation systems; the effects of emancipation; racial tension; tension between social classes; and disagreement over voting rights.

Indicator 8-4.2 Summarize Reconstruction in South Carolina and its effects on daily life in South Carolina, including the experiences of plantation owners, small farmers, freedmen, women, and northern immigrants.

Standard USHC-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the causes and the course of the Civil War and Reconstruction in America.

Indicator USHC-4.3 Outline the course and outcome of the Civil War, including the role of African American military units; the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation; and the geographic, political, and economic factors involved in the defeat of the Confederacy.

Lessons Using this Item

"Being There": Understanding Reconstruction in South Carolina

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