When the fires finally died out, over one third of Columbia lay in ruins. Any government building, or any business which could provide aid to the Confederate war effort was destroyed. Civilians tried reaching out to General Sherman for help, but Sherman was unsympathetic. It is still unclear as to who actually started the fire in Columbia. Southern accounts say it was Sherman’s troops, and Northern accounts say it was started by Confederates, in their haste to evacuate the city.