War of the Rebellion: Serial 099 Page 0596 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.

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Charlotte, February 24. - There is no alarm here. The enemy are reported moving in the direction of ---. During the retreat from Columbia a train of cars, filled with ladies, broke down, exposing them to the danger of capture by Yankees.

From the best information received here it appears probable that a considerable conflagration occurred in the western portion of Columbia, occassioned, it is supposed, by the cotton ignited in the streets. It is reported that the fire extended from Main street to the Charlotte depot, nearly three-guarters of a mile. The information is positives as to the occurrence of the fire, but doubt is entertained as to its magnitude. Some of the refugees from Columbia are preparing to return.

Charlotte, February 25. - No additional news from the front. It is supposed still that the enemy are making their way to ---. The news from Columbia corroborates the kind treatment of the inhabitants. The Ursuline Convent was protected by a giard. No public property was allowed to be burned in the city. Sherman's headquarters were at Nickerson's Hotel. The alarm in Charlotte has subsided. The weather is bad and the roads heavy, interfering with rapid military movements.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

HEADQUARTERS,

In the Field, February 27, 1865.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN, U. S. Army:

GENERAL: Your communication of the 24th instant reached me to-day. In it you state that it has been officially reported that your foraging parties are "murdered: after capture. You go onto say that you have "ordered a similar number of prisoenrs in our hands to be disposed of in like manner; " that is to say, you have ordered a number of Confederate soldiers to be "marked. " You characterize your order in proper terms, for the public voice, even in your own country, where it seldom dares to express itself in vindication of truth, honor, or justice, will surely agree with yout in pronouncing you guilty of murder of your order is carried out. Before dismissing this portion of your letter, I beg to assure you that for every soldier of mine "murdered" by you, I shall have executed at once two of yours, giving in all cases preference to any offices who may be in my hands.

In reference to the statement you make regarding the death of your foragers, I have only to say that I know nothing of it; that no orders given by me authorize the killing of prisoners after capture, and that I do not believe my men killed any of yours, except under circumstances in which it was perfectly legitimate and proper that they should kill them. It is a part of the system of the thieves whom you designate as your foragers to fire the dwellings of those citizens whom they have robbed. To check this inhuman system, which is justly execrated by every civilized nation, I have directed my men to shoot down all of your men who are caught burning houses. This order shall remain in force so long as you disgrace the profession of arms by allowing your men to destroy private dwellings.

You say that I cannot, of course, question your right to forage on the country- "It is a right as old as history. " I do not, sir, question this right. But there is a right older, even, than this, and one more inalienable - the right that every man has to defend his home and to protect those who are dependent on him; and from my heart I wish that every old man and boy in my country who can fire a gun would shoot down, as he would a wild beast, the men who are desolating their land, burning their homes, and insulting their women.

You are particular in defending and claiming "war rights. " May I ask if you enumerate among these the right to fire upon a defensess city without notice; to burn that city to the ground after it had been