The Burning of Columbia Sesquicentennial Panel

Here’s a panel of historians talking about the burning of Columbia and how it has been remembered.

Anne Sarah Rubin takes on the question of who burned Columbia.  She provides the grounding for the rest of the panel.  Megan Kate Nelson approaches the burning of Columbia from the standpoint of how the memory of it has come down to us, including through photographs and witness writings.  She also talks a bit about the ruins of Columbia, using themes from her book, Ruin Nation.  Caitlin Verboon, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, tells us about Columbia during Reconstruction, carrying the analysis of the impact of Columbia’s burning beyond the departure of the Union army and beyond the surrender of the confederate military forces.  She talks about how the Freedmen’s Bureau provided aid and relief to both black and white Columbians, though the white Columbians proved to be ingrates.  Tom Brown also talks about Reconstruction in Columbia and the resistance white Columbians put up against biracial equality.  He also gets into memory of Sherman’s March and Reconstruction.  They really cover a lot of bases here.



  1. Pat Young · · Reply

    I’m two hours in and still have thirty minutes to go. Good presentations by all. Challenging questions too.

  2. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    A good piece, Al. I’m not sure that Anne Rubin brought much new to the table. Your nice piece posted a few weeks ago covered it IMO more completely. Megan Nelson’s piece on photography of the time was well done. Anyone who is interested can see all of Richard Wearn’s Columbia photos here.

    Caitlin Verboon’s piece was new information to me and quite interesting. Nice to see — what shall I call it??? — a more realistic view of what happened in Columbia (and elsewhere) to the former slaves. Maybe we are making progress after all. And I enjoyed many of Tom Brown’s comments (also new material) — one in particular that “memorable” is not necessarily the same as “pivotal” and two that the burning did not have a particularly large impact on Columbia history. Thanks for sharing.

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