IL and MO, Brush Fires, Nov 1867


From the Cairo (Ill.) Democrat, Nov. 19.
Sweeping, surging flame is spreading over miles and hundreds of miles of our territory, and dense, heavy, stifling smoke like a pall, have settled upon the whole country. For a distance of nearly a hundred miles along the Illinois Central Railroad, throughout a large portion of Alexander and Pulaski counties, and a wide scope of Southern Missouri, in forest and field, prairie and hill, the destroying element is sweeping, and no power has been able to stay it. The sight is one of awful grandeur. The bright flames lap up the dry leaves and grass of the forests, and stubble of the fields, twine around the giant tree, and, roaring above its top, seem eager to kiss the very clouds. In the central portions of this county much damage has been done. Fences and barns, fine timber and stacks of grain, have been destroyed. In southeast Missouri "Negro Wool Swamp," or the dead grass and timber therein, is a mass of flame and bulk of fire. The woods in Union County are also being swept. All around is seen the crackling, raging flame, leaping from limb to limb, following the tortuous windings of the long fences, and covering the earth with a gleaming mantle of fire. The damage sustained already cannot be estimated. Everywhere the farmers are fighting back the fire; but while breaking the ranks in this place are flanked in that; while making headway here, are losing ground there. The origin of the fire is easily accounted for. Hunters and marketmen, camping in the woods, have thoughtlessly left the embers of their camp fires to be scattered among the dry leaves by the first breeze. In this way the widespread conflagration originated. Man is comparatively powerless, and we look for the end only when the heavens open their floodgates and send a drenching shower. Our city is enveloped in smoke; the navigation of our rivers is rendered difficult and perilous thereby, and eyes and lungs and sensibly affected. The "burning of the woods," as we call it, is periodical here, but in this great tornado of fire, we realize something in comparison with which our former "burnings" pale into utter insignificance.

The New York Times New York 1867-11-24