Last year, we shared an in-depth post on the burning of the UA campus in the last days of the Civil War. This year, we take a look at the words of an eyewitness to the events.
Basil Manly, Sr., was living in Tuscaloosa during the Union raid of April 4, 1865 — sometimes referred to as Croxton’s Raid — and gave this account.
Capture of the city. Tues. morn. April 4 In the course of the last night a portion of the Federal Cavalry, estimated at between 1500 & 2000, under Gen’l Croxton entered our city, surprising the guard at the bridge, and obtained possession of our city, without a struggle. They soon burned the buildings used for public purposes at the university, & took all the horses & mules they could find. They camped in our [streets?], that night, and next morning they proceeded to burn the foundry & factory, the niter sheds, and the bridge across the river. This last they did when retiring from the city in the direction of North port. The houses of two of the professors, inhabited by Mr. Deloffre & Mr. [D/H]ickson, took fire from the burning of other houses, and were consumed. Mr. & Mrs. Deloffre saved few things out of their dwelling, while it was burning.
Capt. Toomer, it is said, of the Tax in Kind, set fire to the row of building, known as [Drish’s?] row, as soon as the captors entered the city, and all the buildings connected with his office, were consumed; His books & papers, also, were consumed. The doors were all locked; the fire within about the latter part of the burning, the ware-house at the River was burnt, with its contents. A well-stocked [tan?]-yard, with all its stock & [?], was burned, also, the property of C. M. Foster. They passed over into North Port, burned the ware-house there; & perhaps other property. I learn that they did not burn Cumming’s [tan?]-yard, in North-Port.
A good deal of robbery & pillage was done in private houses, in situations remote from the general’s head quarters; but, generally, they were restrained from much of that in the more frequented parts of the city; except as to the storehouses & shops. [These?] were ransacked & stripped of every thing, and a general invitation to the poor, & the negros to possess themselves of what they desired.
A few days later, General Lee surrendered and the war ended, but Manly and the rest of the community didn’t hear the news until early the next month. Sometime between May 7 and May 14, he reports the following.
Gen’l Lee Surrenders. we hear, also, that Gen’l R. E. Lee, and the Remnant of his army was hemmed in near Appomattox C. H. Va. by superior numbers; and that he surrendered all the troops with him, about the 9th of April. Gen’l Jos[eph] E. Johnston surrendered his army, in N.C. a few days after to Gen’l Sherman. All over-run