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To the Editor of the Argonaut--Sir:

A firm of stationers in San Francisco has published a map of the city upon which that part of San Francisco destroyed by the fire of April 18-21st, 1906, is fittingly printed in the brilliant red of flame, the part which remains represented by white space. One looking at this map is instantly impressed by curious dots, flecks and irregular lines of white scattered over the otherwise unbroken area that stretches from Market Street north to the waters of the Bay, from Van Ness Avenue eastward to the docks and wharves; and one is irresistibly impelled to inquire by what strange chance, by what seeming miracle, these detached and isolated structures still stand unscathed amid the surrounding desolation. Was it here, one asks, that San Francisco's valiant firemen, wearied by days and nights of monstrous toll, faint from lack of food, with smoke-grimed faces and parched throats, made some last, desperate and successful stand? Or was it here that the brave soldiers of the army of the United States, standing shoulder to shoulder, a grim and glorious resolve in their hearts, snatched success from the very jaws of defeat, erecting a monument thereby to that iron discipline which falls riot nor wavers even in the presence of great emergencies?

Sir, in consideration of the fact that the conflagration through which the city has just passed is the greatest of all times, it seems that perchance the results of some slight inquiry regarding the means whereby this property, of the value of some millions of dollars, although in the immediate path of the flames, was saved from destruction may be of sufficient general interest to warrant their inclusion in your valued columns. The result of this inquiry may, indeed, serve as a lesson valuable to other cities at some future time to be visited by similar disaster, and they cannot fall to command the attention of those so vitally concerned. If to the firemen of San Francisco is due the credit, let theirs be the praise. If the soldiers under the command of Brigadier-General Frederick Funston were the saviors of these homes of the people of San Francisco, let no whit of the thanks which should be theirs be withheld from them. Let the facts speak. But as for the present writer he will not conceal his belief that it is to the invincible heroism of the citizens of San Francisco that these homes owe their safety--a heroism that rose superior to the terrors of earthquake, the horrors of fire, the exhaustion and consequent disorganization of the fire department, and the colossal stupidity of the military authorities.

But to the facts.

One of the dots of white amid the flaming red upon the map represents the residence of O. D. Baldwin, one of San Francisco's prominent citizens. This house of brick stands at the corner of Green and Jones Streets, the only remaining structure in what was prior to Friday, the 20th of April, a solid block of houses. Within it are costly furnishings, pictures, statuary, delicate china, and all other appointments of a luxurious home. These are unharmed by the fire, untouched by the flames. The house itself is not of fire-proof construction, was not especially protected from the fire in any manner, and yet it stands. Does it stand because of the efforts of San Francisco's gallant firemen. The owner's testimony is that there was never a fireman upon the premises. Does it stand because of the achievements of the courageous soldiery? Upon the same good authority the accident of the acquaintanceship of the officer in charge with the owner of the house alone saved it. During the morning of Friday, the 20th of April, sundry citizens whose achievements will hereinafter be recounted in detail, put out the fire between Van Ness Avenue and Russian Hill. South of Green Street all had been burned. North of Green Street there was no fire. Came then the extraordinary dynamiting of the Viavi Building on Van Ness Avenue near Green Street, the force of which explosion cast burning rafters far and wide over the section free from fire. The conflagration thus begun, driven by a gale from the west, swept up over the Hyde Street Hill with inconceivable fury, destroying fifty square blocks of buildings where previously there had been no fire. Moving from west to cast, the flames attacked the block in which stands the house of Mr. Baldwin. They consumed in succession the residences that lined the street, and at half past two o'clock in the afternoon they had reached the Baldwin place.

Baldwin was there. He was there to fight. Though no longer young in years, he determined to save his home if it could be saved.

On the morning of the first day, Mrs. Baldwin had instructed her servants to fill with water all available vessels--even the porcelain vases in the drawing room--and these had been distributed throughout the house. This water now served, in the hands of Mr. Baldwin, his son, his nephew and the Japanese servants, to extinguish the thin tongues of flame which appeared each moment on woodwork fronting the fiercely burning residence in the same lot not twenty feet distant. A hole was broken through the slate roof. The blazing cornices were being chopped away--when appeared a military officer who ordered Mr. Baldwin and his helpers instantly to leave the house! But Mr. Baldwin did not leave the house. A refusal was on his lips when the officer recognized in Baldwin an old friend, a one-time neighbor, and, on the instant. the soldier carrying into execution the unlawful orders of the military authorities became a man eager to help his friend.

"Mr. Baldwin!-what can I do for you?"

"Drive out this rabble," said Baldwin, "and help me."

At the point of a pistol, the soldier drove from the house the men (looters shall we say?) who had poured into it, and in a short space of time the fire was extinguished, the house saved. Every window in the building was broken by the heat; furniture which stood in the center of large rooms shows blisters on its polished surface. Yet the house stands, a monument to the courage of its owner and defender.

On that flame-red map of San Francisco to which reference has been made there is a thin line of white not far from the minute point that represents the residence of O. D. Baldwin. This thin line of white stands for numbers 1009, 1011, 1013, 1023 and 1027 Green Street--houses fronting on Green between Leavenworth and Jones. All the houses in the same block facing Vallejo Street were burned. All the houses in the same block facing Leavenworth Street were burned. All the houses in the same block facing Jones Street were burned. All the houses on the opposite side of Green Street directly facing were burned. Only these five houses stand. Do they stand because of the efforts of the firemen? No. Do they stand because of gallant work on the part of the military? No. Do they stand because there was here an abundant supply of water? No. For none of these reasons do these houses stand--but for these:

Rather early Friday morning, the fire which was moving steadily from south to north along Leavenworth Street and along Jones Street attacked the southernmost line of houses in the block in question. The residents of the houses upon the north line of the block, perceiving that the flames were advancing slowly, determined at least to make a fight for their homes. Prominent among these men was Dr. J. K. Plincz, a young surgeon, and Mr. Kirk Harris, formerly of the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle. These two men with a few others, some passers-by, and two or three carmen from the Union Street Car-house, set to work. They chopped and broke down fences and small outbuildings that might afford a pathway to the fire; they achieved the successful destruction by dynamite of a small barn; they wet blankets, rugs, and carpets with small quantities of water that had previously been collected in palls and bath-tubs, and one by one, as sparks fell or shingles caught, they beat out the flames. A dipper of water here, a stroke with a wet cloth there--that was all--enough.

But do you think that these men, laboring thus heroically, thus simply, thus effectively, in the defense of their homes, were permitted to accomplish their admirable work without interference from that soldiery whose brutal hand for three long days grasped our fair and vanished city by the throat? Not so. But soldiers are also men. Not infrequently they hesitated at carrying out the unlawful orders which went far to work the destruction of our city. And so it was here. Dr. Plincz, laboring to save that fine old octagonal house that stands at 1027 Green Street was ordered by a soldier to leave it. A little persuasion, a diplomatically assumed air of camaraderie, a few glasses of good wine-- and the soldier was ready to countermand his order and go away. Had the soldier been a little more stubborn, had Dr. Plincz been a trifle less diplomatic, what happened a thousand times in San Francisco during these terrible days would have happened here: the defenders of these homes would have been compelled at the point of a rifle to abandon them to a fiery fate. But the soldiery was not the only human peril with which these men had to contend. Appeared on the scene a youth, wearing a badge of authority, who casually said to Harris of the Chronicle:

Well, in a few minutes these houses will be up in the air." What!" said Harris.

"Yes," responded the youth, "we have decided to dynamite this block."

"But surely," said Harris, "you fellows are trying to save property with your dynamite. I know that you are not trying to destroy property. And these houses, as you see, are already out of danger, and are not dangerous to any houses anywhere."

"Well, we've decided to dynamite them," remarked the youth, "and they are going to be dynamited."

And then it was that Harris hung about the man's neck, and brought his neighbors to labor with the youth, and after long minutes of argument and appeal won the boy's grudging consent not to raze utterly these homes that had so heroically been saved from fire. With infinite relief they watched his departure to sate elsewhere his lust of destruction.

Another blotch of white upon the map of red represents the houses that stand on Russian Hill. Here are the residences of Mr. Stone, of Mr. Morgan Shepard, of Mr. Richardson, of the Rev. Joseph Worcester, of Mr. Livingston Jenks, of Eli Shepard, the three-story flats the property of Mrs. Polk, the property of Mrs. Virgil Williams, the house of Mr. Livermore, and several other homes scattered over three city blocks, with three or four houses a block away to the north.

The fact that these houses stand is owing only in a slight degree to their situation. It is owing not at all to any fireman. It is, for the most part, in despite of the military. A score of times these buildings were on fire. A score of times the men of the hill, evading or resisting the efforts of the military to expel them from their homes, extinguished the flames. Thursday night, not far from eight o'clock, the soldiers swarmed upon the hill. They ordered everyone to depart. Mr. Norman Livermore, who had collected for the defense of the Livermore residence perhaps a barrel of water, eluded the man with the gun who went tramping through his residence, and, when he had gone returned to it. An hour later a row of wooden houses on the crest of the hill, separated from his residence only by a narrow alley, were burning fiercely to its constant peril. Had he been absent a heap of ashes would mark the spot where the house now stands. and once again, before day dawned, Mr. Livermore was ordered to desist from remaining in the vicinity of his house, and was compelled to return to it, without knowledge of the military, by devious ways.

It is to be feared that the readers of these lines will weary of the monotony of this narrative. For the story of the saving from the fire of this little group of citizens of San Francisco is in every instance the story of the heroism of the plain citizens of our city, of the absence of any organized endeavor on the part of the fire department of San Francisco to stay the progress of the fire and of the attempt of the soldiers to execute the incredible orders of their superiors. It might be narrated in detail how Livingston Jenks was driven at the point of a pistol from the roof of his mansion where he had intrenched himself; it might be narrated at length how the house of Mrs. Morgan Shepard, through that long, intolerable night, was invaded by soldier after soldier who commanded her to depart, and whom by feminine tact and diplomacy she managed to restrain from violence, and thus remained beneath the shelter of her roof throughout the fire; it might be told with circumstance how Mr. Richardson and his wife were forced at the rifle's point to leave the hill, abandoning their homes to the flames, and returning to find it scorched indeed, but saved from destruction through the efforts of their neighboring friends. But what profits it? The stories have but one beginning and one end. They begin with the criminal idiocy of the military; they end with the surmounting heroism of the citizen.

It was different on Telegraph Hill. Here the men of the hill had only to fight the fire--no soldiers, fortunately, came there; no firemen. True, there were at one time two marines, one of whom was drunk, and the other, after he had rashly fired a shot in the direction of one of the dwellers on the hill, wisely disappeared. Upon the hill, saved from the fire, are hundreds of houses. True, they are mean houses sheltering the poor. All these houses on the hill with all their contents would not total in value a million dollars. And yet, had they burned, more than a thousand people would have been homeless and destitute and despairing. It was worth while even to save these houses on the hill and honor and praise to the men who did it.

Nor was it an easy task. Let him who believes that the houses on Telegraph Hill were saved by their situation stand at the corner of Union Street and Montgomery and see how the flame like a crested wave swept up the hill till by some heroic effort it was halted between curb and curb, leaving a row of wooden houses, scorched but intact, fronting upon square miles of desolation. Or let him make his way by precipitous paths to the center of the block on Filbert Street between Kearny and Montgomery and behold the house of Widow Hanley, half burned and no more. An extra-ordinary sight indeed--a fire stopped short when it had burned half a house --especially when one considers that: the weapons of this warfare were a few casks of wine, a few buckets and kettles of water, and how elsewhere the fire leaped in the teeth of the wind one wide street after another where the military had driven away the people and were themselves "fighting the fire"--God save the mark!

But the historian of the conflagration will never be able to quote the testimony of "prominent citizens" concerning the happenings on the hill that wild, windy Friday night when the great heaps of yellow pine that lay at the foot of the long slope to the bay burned with infinite fury, and the wharves themselves were consumed, and eager little tongues of flame creeping warily down the last slimy piles perished with a subtle hiss in the waters of the bay. For it was the boys of the hill that saved the hill.

It was Toby Irwin, the prizefighter, and Tim O"Brien who works in the warehouse at the foot of the hill, and his brother Joe, who works in a lumberyard, and the Dougherty boys, and the Volse boys, and Herman, the grocery clerk--it was they who saved the hill. It was the old Irishwomen who had hoarded a few buckets of water through the long days of fear and rumor and who now came painfully toiling up the slopes with water for the fire--it was they who saved the hill. It was the poor peasant Italian with a barrel of cheap wine in his cellar who now sweatily rolled it out, and broke its head in with an axe, and with dipper and bucket and mop and blanket and cast-off coat fought the fire till he dropped--it as he who saved the hill. It was Sadie who works in the box-factory and Annie who is a coat finisher and Rose who is a chocolate dipper in a candy shop who carried water and cheered on the boys to the work--it was they who saved the hill. It was a great, brave, roistering fight of all the dwellers on the hill for their homes and their lives, and gloriously they won success. Thank God, there were no soldiers there to drive these humble people from their homes, no soldiers with, loot-stained fingers clutching gun-butts to make there a desolation--to lay the feast upon which the flames might feed to gorging unmolested, unchecked, undisturbed.

Do you know what was the most terrible sight in the burning city? It was the streets by night, vacant, deserted, dreadful; empty of all human sound; lighted only by the hideous glare of oncoming horror; homes of men, standing dumb and helpless, with blank, staring windows through which none should ever look; with doors swinging in the wind through which none should ever pass; long, terrible streets toward which the fire approached with no hand lifted to its hindering; streets from which the soldiery had driven all men who might desire to fight bravely to the last in their homes' defense; streets whose awful silence was even as a cry of agony before impending doom.

A citizen of this city, Mr. Osgood Putnam, has told how on the night of Thursday he passed along the line of fire from Russian Hill to Sansome Street and back again along that fiery path. He has told of these long, vacant streets; of the utter silence save for the roaring of the fire, of the inaction of the soldiery, the absence of any firemen. Thus even then the throttling grip of the military was upon this part of the city, filling men with fear of violence, breeding deadly apathy and dumb despair, dooming thereby to utter ruin a hundred blocks of homes that then lay untouched between the Terror and the Bay.

It has been shown in the foregoing that the group of houses on Green Street were saved by the citizens; it was shown that the houses on Russian Hill (with one exception) were saved by the citizens; it has been shown that Telegraph Hill was saved by the dwellers thereupon. But let not for a moment be supposed that these were the only successful achievements of citizens who fought to stay the northward progress of the fire. Perhaps more notable than all of these was the conquest of the conflagration by the citizens on Friday morning. At this time the flames had destroyed very structure south of Green Street which they were to destroy--save two blocks. North of Green Street there was no fire. It was clear that, if during the destruction of these two blocks on the south side of Green between Hyde and Polk Streets the flames could be prevented from crossing to the north, thousands of houses, millions of property, would be saved. At this time, the firemen, who had worked uselessly through the night, had deserted this vicinity, and, fortunately, the dynamiters were carrying on their work of destruction elsewhere. But at this time, at this place, there chanced to be a few citizens who had escaped the harassment of the military, and these grasped their opportunity. Led by Mr. Osgood Putnam, with whom were two or three men in the employ of his brother, Mr. Edward Putnam, these citizens manned the structure that stood at the northwest corner of Green and Larkin Streets, and employing those primitive methods by which citizens saved every residence that now stands north of Market Street, they successfully prevented the flames from leaping the street that intervened. Then, as driven by a western wind, the fire moved along the south side of Green Street from west to east, these citizens kept pace with it upon the structures opposite as each became the point of peril. To the south, house after house, structure after structure reduced itself to a heap of smoldering coals; to the north, house after house, structure after structure emerged unscathed from its fiery ordeal, till at the north there remained but one structure in peril, but one building at the south to be destroyed. The structure at the north was the large flat-building at the northwest corner of Green and Hyde Streets, the property of Mr. Edward Putnam. Because of its height it presented a more difficult problem to the fighters of the fire, but by this time the handful of citizens had increased to perhaps twenty men. Edward Putnam and Sidney M.Van Wyck, the lawyer, were now at hand, fresh and eager for the fight.

Two fire extinguishers were found in the building, and heartened by the belief that victory was at hand, the men bent to their final work like the heroes that they were. At length the walls of the opposite building fell; the heat sensibly diminished; the building upon which they were began to take fire less frequently; then it ceased to catch fire at all; in the hearts of these fighting men joy began to spring and grow,; still watchful, they wiped from their foreheads the grimy sweat; and then, in sudden realization that victory was theirs, they broke into a cheer. Van Wyck fired his exultant pistol in the air. The flat-building was saved! The street was saved! Fifty blocks--to the Bay--were saved, saved!

Alas for human hopes!

Alas for the belief that the dynamiters in their seeming passion to destroy would be restrained from setting fire to a district as free from flame as Market Street today! All the morning innumerable automobiles bearing important-looking officials, civil and Military, had been running like excited ants up and down Van Ness. There were firemen in plenty on Van Ness. There were soldiers galore upon Van Ness. Policemen in squads had there assembled. Dynamiters were there in force. Two lines of hose run up Van Ness, and the [Army tugboat] Slocum north at the water front sent water in steady stream to the block upon Van Ness where the fire had not been quite extinguished. At the corner of Green and Hyde, that little band of men had for hours been fighting fire, in a solid block, on a narrow street, with dippers of water and kitchen mops- how should they know that this imposing array of "firefighters" on the Avenue would undo all their work? But so it was. "I was watching the fire," says Porter Garnett, "with special reference to a friend's house on the north side of Green Street near Larkin and had concluded that it was safe. No fire was visible north of Green Street, and on the south side of Green Street the flames appeared to have been completely extinguished. A few moments later I again looked from the window of the house in which I was on Pacific Avenue--a house commanding an excellent view of the district in question--and was astounded to perceive several isolated fires in the district which a short time before had seemed to be free from danger. These blazes were quickly fanned by the wind into a roaring conflagration, and the house of my friend was within a short time burned to the ground." "On Friday afternoon," says Robert Royce, attorney, of the firm of Lewis & Royce, "I witnessed the destruction of sundry buildings on the east side of Van Ness Avenue, the avowed purpose of the dynamiters being to prevent the fire from crossing that street. The men seemed to be indifferent regarding the spread of the fire to the east over the unburned section north of Green Street. I saw the destruction of the Viavi Building by dynamite, and I have no doubt that, as frequently asserted, brands hurled by this explosion set fire to this section and were the cause of its destruction." And so, after all, the hoarse cheer of the gallant twenty who had quenched the fire was a thing to make devils laugh. For the wind that then arose with the scattering of those brands set even beyond the reach of hope all that lay eastward in their path. Never was so still a morning as the morning of the quake. Never so calm and clear an evening as that which followed it. All day Thursday light winds blew, and Friday morning but a breath of air was stirring. But when, from this place, flew those blazing brands, great Hesperus blew from all his hollow caves and houses burned in minutes that before had taken hours. But still the citizens fought. Led by Van Wyck, who had helped to win the useless victory at the Putnam house, but still had heart enough to fight again, a little band of citizens saved by the same methods that had so often been employed that row of buildings on the north side of Greenwich Street between Polk Street and Larkin. Here it was, too, that the woman who keeps the little store on the corner of Polk and Greenwich, at the point of a pistol, compelled (as she says) the citizens to save her place with barrels of vinegar that she furnished them. Eastward along Greenwich Street is the reservoir, and here citizens who had by this time gathered in numbers broke down the long, inflammable fences that threatened the safety of household goods that had been left upon the grassy slopes. Northward is the home of Mrs. Stevenson, and this Mr. Edward Field, Mr. Jerome Landfield, and other citizens saved from destruction with a little water. Eastward again--.

But, sir, this letter is already too long. Saved from the fire in this corner of the city are some fifteen blocks of houses, and the story of their rescue would be long in the telling. Suffice it then to say that here, for the most part, the military appears to have graciously permitted the citizens to fight the fire without greatly hindering them. For example, McGowan, who lives on the southeast corner of Chestnut Street and Leavenworth, was allowed unharassed to labor in his home's defense. To the west, across the street, the buildings burned; to the south, in the same block, the Canopa mansion was utterly consumed; to the east, across a narrow lot, the buildings were destroyed. And yet McGowan, with blanket and bucket and a little water from the tank on his roof, saved his home. Strange contrast this to Van Ness Avenue that afternoon where with plenty of water and many willing hands the authorities found it necessary to employ dynamite in order to prevent the fire from crossing that wide street against a steady wind--and to employ dynamite in such a manner that millions in property that lay to the east was set on fire and all destroyed.

North of McGowan's place is a three-story flat-building housing many families. The men here found in an old house to the north a faucet from which the water ran all during the fire--a relic of the old, forgotten water system that has its reservoir on Bernal Heights, from which a main runs down Mission Street and up the water front, and connects, at length, with a few of these old houses on the northern shore. This water the men who lived in this flat brought in buckets and palls, and these they hauled with ropes to the top of the flat. So intrenched they faced the fire that burned to south and southwest--William S. Wattles, Ralph Whitcomb, A. K. Durbrow, who lives one block north, C. D. Durbrow, whose home on Green Street had long before been burned, Sanderson, the attorney, Mr. Knoll and others of the neighboring citizens and men whose homes had been destroyed. And by great good fortune no soldiers came to drive them from their work. Throughout the fire not a soldier entered the place, not a fireman appeared upon the scene. And so they worked in peace, these men, and the building stands. And when the danger was over, the peril past, they might sit on their doorsteps, as Mr. Whitcomb remarks, and see the singing squads of soldiers trailing past with buckets of foaming beer from a brewery that had burned--not drunk, but happy.

But nearby there were houses that were not so fortunate. From the Durbrow house which still stands at the corner of Leavenworth and Francisco Streets the soldiers drove its defenders, saying that the house was to be destroyed by dynamite (in this case a crime unspeakable), and when, hours later, they returned, they found a man in the uniform of a United States marine who had ransacked the place. He had taken money from a purse that in the haste of departure had been forgotten. But the soldiers refused to arrest him; he was permitted to escape. Next door lives a Mr. Marples, who also was ordered from his home, and who also, when he returned to it, found a looting soldier--a looting soldier, in fact, with the hardihood to depart with his bag of loot despite the presence and entreaties of its lawful owner. It is a common story. From the adjacent residence (at 828 Francisco Street) of My. A. C. Kains, of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the soldiers endeavored to drive all persons at noon on Friday, but in one way or another the Kains managed to remain till late that afternoon. They locked the doors, they closed the windows, but none the less, a soldier was throwing loot from the window of the drawing room when Mrs. Kains returned. "This house is abandoned," said the soldier in response to her expostulation--the soldier who had ordered them forth! The stories of the ordeals through which passed various other houses of this section--the Fontana, the Hume, the Fay, the Copeland and others -do not essentially differ from those already related. They are one and all but variations of the same tale.

Such, then, are the facts regarding the salvation from the fire of nearly a thousand homes--property of the value of some millions of dollars. And they are facts that may be easily substantiated. For, should any doubt their truth, or conceive that in the foregoing passages there has been exaggeration, he has only to verify each statement by reference to the men whose names have here been. given-men, for the most part, of some distinction in the community in which they live. Are they not deserving of all honor and praise, these men who, in the face of such discouragement, achieved so greatly? Is it not remarkable, is it not indeed extraordinary, that where the organized fire department of the city failed even to save a single dwelling-place in all this great district; where also hundreds of soldiers rescued nothing save that which they thrust into their pockets or concealed in the ground to be unearthed at some more convenient season, these men unskilled and unpracticed in that occupation in which they then engaged should have won in it such great success? Consider for a moment how few they were; without leaders save those that rose from the ranks; without weapons save those which the firemen of the city would have scorned to employ; with so little water that a cupful seemed more precious than gold! How absurd and yet how glorious to rescue a home with a teacup of water from the midst of the greatest conflagration that the world, has seen! And when it is considered how much was done by the men of the city in defense of the city one is impelled to inquire what would not. have been accomplished had not the military laid its paralyzing hand upon them. Left to their own devices, not cowed by careless men with guns, would not the citizens of San Francisco have risen greatly to their need, and even as these few men, in spite of the soldiery, saved so much, so the citizens, unhampered, would have rescued from the fire wide areas of our city that now are ruin and gray desolation? - For during those unforgettable days the city of San Francisco was even as, a city captured in war, the possession of an alien foe. We were strangers on our own streets; driven from our own houses; gray-haired men, our foremost citizens, the sport of the whims of young boys, whose knowledge of the city was confined to its dance-halls, its brothels, and saloons. Were we children--we, the citizens of San Francisco--that we should have thus been suddenly gripped by the throat by a stupid soldiery, and held fast till all our city burned? How few businessmen there are in San Francisco who will not tell you of irreplaceable loss of books or papers or other property because boys with guns beat them back, though not for hours did their buildings burn? And if so many, many individual citizens were so grievously the losers because of the soldiery, by what system of logic shall we arrive at the conclusion that the whole body of the citizens gained thereby? Suppose that without the military there had, indeed, been looting from the burning buildings-is there any thief worse than fire; is there any robber more to be dreaded than flame? Suppose, indeed, that some few brave, and hardy men, fighting the fire had lost their lives, even as firemen in the same perilous work sometimes meet a brave man's death--of what account compared with the millions upon millions in property that had been saved; the preservation of parts of our city that perished with no hand to stay?

A few weeks ago the Argonaut printed an article, bearing my signature, on "The Management of the Fire." In that article, written a few days after the disaster, embodying merely the conclusions from personal observation during the three nights and days of the conflagration, I made certain criticisms of the military authorities. Today, after months have passed, after continued inquiry, after no slight I investigation, I have, in the foregoing, and do here once more, repeat and emphasize every conclusion at which I then arrived concerning the section north of Market Street and east of Van Ness, of the conditions in which district alone I have spoken or pretend to speak.

In the Argonaut for July 7th is printed a letter signed Frederick Funston which apparently in the opinion of its author is in the nature of a reply to the article in question. So far as its involved and tortuous English will permit of judgment it raises no question of fact. General Funston denies no specific statement that I affirmed, affirms no specific statement that I deny.

On the contrary, with evident consciousness that facts will not serve his purpose, that argument will not help his case, he seizes at once upon the weapon which has ever been the favorite of men who know too well the weakness of their position--the weapon of personal abuse. "No case; abuse the plaintiff's attorney." Presuming upon his own exalted station and the supposedly humble position and entire unimportance of your correspondent he refers to him as "somebody who calls himself Henry Anderson Lafler," who, in the language of General Funston, "breaks loose" in criticism. Continuing in similar vein, he visits with his ridicule and inextinguishable mirth those who, like myself, fought the fire with primitive methods. It ill becomes you, General Funston, to jeer so publicly at the citizens of San Francisco who, by whatever means or in whatever fashion, fought bravely, struggled nobly, and won success, in spite of the paralysis which you laid upon them by your soldiery. It may appear amusing to you that Osgood Putnam and his men should have used eucalyptus boughs in the saving of fifty blocks of houses; very funny indeed it may seem that O. D. Baldwin should have employed teacups full of water in the saving of his home; a subject for your laughter that somebody who has the temerity to call himself Henry Anderson Lafler should have put out the fire on "somebody's back fence" with a rusty dipper and a leaky pail; a fit theme indeed for your ridicule that any citizen of San Francisco should have held so dear the home that sheltered him that he should, at mortal risk, have resisted the efforts of your men with guns to harry him thence, and remained successfully to beat out the fire with such rude and simple weapons as the coverings from his bed or the mop from the kitchen. But, General Funston, it appears to me that somehow, strangely, some citizens in San Francisco may possibly not be stirred to laughter or moved to ridicule by these efforts of men to save their dwellings--efforts which you have found such excellent theme for the exercise of your wit, such fitting subjects for the shafts of your ridicule. It appears to me not only possible but probable that some thousands of men and women of San Francisco whose homes, as they are well aware, were saved to them by the efforts of Putnam, Van Wyck, and their associates on that memorable morning of Friday, the 20th of April, which homes were afterwards utterly destroyed by a fire caused by the dynamiters, might not join with you, sir, in that side-splitting laughter by which you are seized whenever you contemplate the idea of a simple citizen coping with the conflagration with a humble weapon hastily snatched from the armory of his bathroom or the arsenal of his kitchen.

I believe it is some half dozen times that General Funston accuses me of ignorance and misinformation. He speaks of the influence of the article upon others as "misinformed" as I. He says that the article is "unique in the lack of information" shown by its author "as to the difficulties encountered by those engaged in fighting" the fire. He speaks of what I stated that I saw and affirmed that I observed as "mental gymnastics and fairy tales." He refers to the article as "ignorant" and also as a "cowardly" attack. And finally be refers to it as what I "did not see and do not know."

If General Funston is right, the article in question must indeed have been a very miracle of ignorance, cowardice, and misinformation. But also, if General Funston is right, the foregoing article must be incredibly more ignorant, of cowardice inconceivable, quite infinitely misinformed. For herein I have but repeated and emphasized the conclusions of the prior article; I have but added to the number, not in the least altered the character, of the facts (supposedly facts) of which it is composed. And obviously, even to a simple intelligence, if the statement of one fact (allegedly fact) of a certain nature and kind indicates ignorance and misinformation then the statement of ten facts of the same nature and identical kind must indicate tenfold the ignorance, tenfold the misinformation. In truth, if this present article has no other distinction, I can at least claim for it that (in the opinion of General Funston) it has the unique distinction of being the most misinformed and absolutely ignorant article ever printed within the borders of the State of California. And not only this, but consider what an extraordinary conspiracy must exist among the citizens who saved their homes between Market and the Bay to maintain in me that state of utter ignorance, to establish and continue so remarkable a condition of entire misinformation.

General Funston, I have with you but one concluding word. The conflagration through. which the city of San Francisco has but just passed is, as you justly remark, the greatest conflagration of modern times, if not of all times since the beginning of the world. It presents to the gaze of all the nations of the earth and to the historian of the future a phenomenon unique and of its kind unparalleled.

Sir, are you so lost to reason as for a moment to suppose that if your acts, lawful or unlawful, during those days of peril need defense that you can serve your cause or help your case by abuse or ridicule of anyone who bears public and truthful witness concerning the conduct of your soldiery? Till that awful night of Thursday when, from the northern hills of the city that I love, I saw the Beast of the Fire gnawing at the city's heart with no hand of man uplifted in defense--nay, when I beheld your soldiery driving back the brave citizens of the city who would gladly have labored to the last to save it from destruction--you were to me but the shadow of a name. It is not I who attack you: it is the facts which attack you. And since because of the magnitude of the event with which you are concerned your every act will be the subject of the no indifferent scrutiny of the historian of the future, nothing that you can now say, either in the way of vituperation and scurrility, or in the way of argument and pleading, can alter or obscure the record of what you then did or then failed to do. While the judgment of history may for a little be delayed, all in its good time it will mete out to you either praise or blame. And if in your secret heart you are conscious that in the time of peril which proves a man, your acts were such as become a man of wisdom and bravery; your conduct was such in its unerring judgment and wise discretion as befits one who wears the uniform of a general in the Army of the United States; and your manifest achievements such as in your declining years you may take a just and honest pride, then you may indeed await in calm confidence, undisturbed by casual criticism, the verdict of the future. But if it should be, sir, that in your secret heart you are conscious that in the presence of an opportunity such as comes to few men in their lifetime, with under your control that tremendous engine--the army--for the accomplishment of any executive purpose, you yet failed to use your power with that energy and wisdom which befits your rank as general; if you are conscious that, with the best intentions in the world, you yet made, as generals have, such fatal errors in the exercise of your power as in a battle-at-arms would have spelled defeat and in this battle with fire did spell ruin and desolation; if you are conscious that to this fiery ordeal to which you were ordained you were after all inadequate, and were even as a man who puts his hand valiantly to the plow and then wavers and looks back, then indeed it may well behoove you to stand, while yet you may, full in the pleasant sunlight of deluded praise.

NOTES The comment may be made that possibly the cessation of any considerable effort to control the fire in its march northward was due to the concentration of the firemen and military at Van Ness Avenue where vastly more was at stake. Those who entertain such opinions may be interested in the following statement of Mr. Frank Hittell:

"Late on Wednesday I was at the corner of Gough Street and Golden Gate Avenue when a fireman approached a crowd of men who were being kept back by the military, and asked for volunteers. So thoroughly cowed were the citizens by the soldiers that no one responded, although I knew that every man of them was willing to help. I went forward and was stopped by a soldier who ordered me back. I refused to go back, informed him that I was responding to the call of a fireman for volunteers, and finally, after prolonged argument, was permitted to pass. The firemen inquired why more men did not come, and I told them that they were willing enough, but were afraid of the soldiers. They urged me to try to get volunteers through the lines. I went back, and was told by a soldier that I could not again pass the lines. I replied that I should not only again pass the lines, but that I should bring twenty men with me as volunteers. The soldier said that he would not permit them to pass. I got the volunteers without difficulty, and returned to the line established by the military when we were stopped. After a long parley, the firemen coming back and imploring the soldiers to permit these volunteers to pass, we were finally permitted to do so. At this time, an inconsiderable number of firemen were fighting this fire. They had, they told me, been at work since one o'clock in the morning, having been called out on the "cannery fire" in the vicinity of Telegraph Hill, which preceded the earthquake. Without the assistance of these volunteers, which, as time passed, augmented in numbers, despite the resistance of the military, these exhausted firemen could never have stopped the westward advance of the flames from Gough and Golden Gate, and the Western Addition would have been destroyed by this fire. As it was, the citizens turned the fire back to the east. The fire was effectually stopped. Only by resistance to the military authorities was this result achieved.

"On Thursday afternoon persons to me unknown set fire to the east side of Van Ness Avenue for the purpose of preventing the fire from crossing the avenue to the west. At this time all south of Turk Street had, been burned and the wind was from the northwest. Instead of setting fire to the buildings on the east side of Van Ness near Turk, and permitting the fire to work slowly to the north against the wind, some incompetent person set fire to the buildings far to the north, and the flames came roaring down, gaining in volume as they progressed, till soon the structures on the west side of Van Ness began to catch fire. At this time, I was in Lafayette Square. A man came rushing up with a call for volunteers, and I dropped my work and followed, him. As I approached Van Ness Avenue, a soldier rushed up and struck me with the side of his gun barrel, and ordered me back. I was angry at the blow, and refused to go. At this moment, Captain Helms, head of a private detective agency, a man with an air of authority, came up and was ordered back. In vivid language he told the soldier that he would not be stopped, gun or no gun, displayed his own weapon, and a badge he wore, and the soldier, overawed, allowed us to proceed. Other volunteers behind us got through somehow, and as we began to work efficiently on the fire, the military cordon relax sufficiently to permit several hundred citizens to act as volunteer firemen.

There were at this time two lines of hose on Van Ness Avenue, and two engines, one of which was manned by a donkey-engine engineer. I believe that there were two or three firemen: before the fire was extinguished, there were several hundred citizens at work. As soon as the fire would catch at any point, the men in great numbers took up the hose bodily and carried it along the block, put out the flames, and then rushed with it to some new danger point. When the Wallace house, now occupied by Tait's Restaurant, caught fire, steam was not up in one of the engines, and the pressure was great enough to throw water only a few feet from the nozzle of the hose. With incredible labor of many men the hose was taken to the top of the house, and hung over the sides. Toward five o'clock Thursday afternoon the flames on the west side of Van Ness had again been extinguished by the efforts of citizens, despite the hindrances put in their way by the soldiers. No dynamite was used, only a few firemen were present, the military did much to hinder, and yet the fire was put out."

The statement of Mr. Fairfax Whelan may also be quoted in this connection:
"I was in the vicinity of California and Franklin Streets on Thursday afternoon from two until about half past four o'clock. I saw the fire destroy the St. Dunstan's and other large buildings in its vicinity on the east side of Van Ness Avenue, and also saw the flames cross Van Ness Avenue in the vicinity of California. At this time nothing whatever was being done at this point to check the fire. Neither firemen, citizens, nor the military were at guard in work. No dynamite was being used at this time. The fire was permitted to burn unimpeded.

"About nine o'clock I returned to the vicinity of Gough and California Streets, and witnessed the dynamiting of various buildings in the vicinity in an effort to prevent the fire from crossing Franklin Street. I believe this dynamiting to have been of great assistance in stopping the conflagration at this point. The dynamite squad was assisted by a great number of citizen volunteers, there being one hose with a supply of water at this time. These men carried the hose bodily from one point to another as each became the seat of danger. I saw no firemen, and I should say that it was largely Owing to the efforts of citizen volunteers that the fire was checked at this point."

A striking contrast between what was achieved with the aid of the military and what loss resulted through military opposition is furnished, respectively, by the Globe Mills, at the foot of Montgomery Street, and A.P. Hotaling & Co., Wholesale Liquors, 431 Jackson Street. As is well known, the only structures used for business purposes that stood unharmed in the entire district north of Market are the Montgomery Block, the Appraisers' Building, the Jackson Street Sub-station of the Postoffice, and the block bounded by Montgomery, Jackson, Sansome and Washington Streets, in which is the liquor- warehouse of A.P. Hotaling & Co.

The Appraisers' Building stands, of course, because it was occupied not by citizens over whom the military assumed authority, and who would have been driven forth that the building, might burn, but by officials of the United States Government, over whom no authority was assumed, and whom, on the contrary, the military did everything in its power to aid. As a consequence, the windows were manned by men with buckets; the roof was kept clear of blazing brands, and the building was saved without difficulty, though, on Wednesday, when all the fronting buildings on the south side of Washington Street burned to the ground the wind blew the flames directly toward the structure. The Postoffice Sub-station was saved in similar manner. It is the only building standing in its block, the flames having destroyed both the building touching it at the right and that at the left. The military, of course, made no effort to drive out government officials, and with water, brought in buckets from the pool that had formed in the excavation for the new custom house one block distant, the building was saved. The credit for the saving of the Montgomery Building, on three sides of which were streets, and on the fourth a blank wall, seems to belong to Captain Cook, now Chief Cook, a fireman.

But as for the entire block in which is the warehouse of A. P. Hotaling & Co., it seems to have been saved principally by the efforts of this firm.

The military, contrary to its nature in other parts of the city, was here susceptible to reason, and granted permission to the manager of the firm to remain with his men. It even permitted him to remove from the warehouse on Thursday over one thousand barrels of whisky which were placed under guard in the excavation to the east of the Appraisers' Building. The employees of this firm were further permitted to bring from the pool in this excavation four or five 60-gallon puncheons of water and distribute them along the front of the block. They were also permitted to employ a hundred men who stood guard upon the roof. and At other exposed places when the fire crept up from the north on Friday afternoon, and who then successfully fought it back. The value to the firm of A. P. Hotaling & Co. of the favors they received at the hands of the military may be faintly suggested by the fact that the establishments of other liquor dealers in the same block were looted of their valuable contents as were restaurants and saloons in the Montgomery Block not destroyed by fire, while the firm of A. P. Hotaling & Co. lost nothing.

In striking contrast with the case of A. P. Hotaling & Co., in which the military exercised the most unusual good sense and wisdom is that of the Globe Mills, at the foot of Montgomery Street. Mr. W. E. Keller, President of the Company, after relating his unsuccessful efforts to obtain assistance for the protection of his property from General Funston, the mayor, or the fire department, stated as follows:

"We believed our building to be entirely fireproof. It is protected on the west and south by Telegraph Hill. The roof was metal, the walls of brick, and the window casings were of metal also. The doors were of iron, very heavy. Within the building were twelve fire extinguishers, and a salt water tank, of unlimited capacity, connects with the bay. The building stands apart, and virtually the only inflammable material was the 10,000 barrels of flour and 4,500 tons of wheat which it contained. Wheat, though it makes a very hot and fierce fire, is difficult to ignite, as fire started on its surface is easily smothered, and flour is also not easily ignited. For the reason that we believed the building could not burn, we carried no insurance. On Friday afternoon, as the flames approached, we got together ten of our men, and were confident of success in saving the mill. At four o'clock in the afternoon, soldiers appeared and ordered us out, threatening to shoot us if we did not go. Arguments and explanations were of no avail. We were ordered to go or be shot. We left the building, and late at night, after being exposed for many hours to the heat of burning lumber yards to the north and east, windows in the east front at length broke, and bins of wheat thus directly exposed to the heat, were ignited. There is of course no doubt whatever that one man could have saved the structure had he been permitted to remain. Our loss was $220,000.00."

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