New York Herald, 6/23/1865, p. 1, c. 3
The Burning of Richmond.
LETTER FROM GENERAL EWELL.
[From the Richmond Republic, June 23.]
The connection General Ewell had with the late disastrous fire does not seem to be fully understood. The following is from a letter to a friend in this city, just received from him. He is still in Fort Warren.
Remember how hard I tried to organize a constabulary force in Richmond. I knew nothing of the firing of the arsenal or cutting the engine hose. These were the work of unauthorized persons or incendiaries. I had no force to stop the plundering which was going on all night. I made couriers and policemen of my staff, trying to prevent disorder and violence. Several fires were kindled before we left, and an attempt to burn Mayo’s bridge frustrated by the daring of the engineer officers, who, at great risk, removed burning canal boats from under it. What I did was in obedience to positive orders that had been given me. Looking, with General Kershaw, towards Richmond, we saw building after building, at a distance from the river, ignite, evidently set on fire. I fell this matter very deeply. I see myself unjustly blamed. I did not exceed, but fell short of my instructions. Yours, affectionately,
R. S. EWELL.
The question is a plain one. General Ewell, after taking every precaution in his power to prevent mischief, did what every soldier is bound to do – obeyed orders. They were, it is true, outrageous, but for them the Confederate Congress is responsible.