The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

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Title: The Burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Author: B. S. Schneck

Release date: May 6, 2010 [eBook #32268]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by Internet Archive/American Libraries (



E-text prepared by the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive/American Libraries


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See













Since the appearance of the first edition of this work, kind friends and strangers from abroad have been prompted to send contributions for the sufferers of our town, sometimes specifying who shall be the recipients, sometimes leaving it discretionary with myself, and sometimes designating the particular denomination of Christians to whose most needy members the gifts should be applied. In order to afford an opportunity to all, to avail themselves of such methods as may be most acceptable, I will here say, that contributions to the General Relief Committee may be sent to the Treasurer, G. R. Messersmith, Esq., Cashier of the Bank of Chambersburg.

Those wishing to make the pastors of the different churches (all of which have suffered very greatly) to be the almoners of their bounty, can send as follows:

First Reformed Church, Rev. P. S. Davis.

Second " "   (German), Rev. B. S. Schneck.

Presbyterian, Rev. S. J. Niccolls.

Lutheran, German (without a pastor). Money can be sent to Rev. F. W. Conrad.

Methodist, Rev. Mr. Barnhart.

United Brethren in Christ, Rev. J. Dickson.

Roman Catholic, Rev. John Gerdeman.

Bethel (Church of God), Mr. W. G. Mitchell.





Single copies sent by mail, free of postage, at the usual retail price, 40 & 60 cts.
By the dozen, in cloth, $5 40
(If sent by express, the receiver pays charges—if by mail, 72 cents per dozen copies added to the above price,) or 6 12
By the dozen, in paper, 3 60
Postage per dozen copies, 40c., 4 00
By the hundred, in cloth, 40 00
 "     "         "       in paper covers, 26 67

No books given on commission.

Agents wishing to canvass particular sections or counties, can apply to the author at Chambersburg.

Agents wanted for a number of counties in the eastern and western portion of Pennsylvania, and also for Ohio, Indiana, etc.

A German edition, in a condensed form, will shortly leave the press, which will retail at 30 cents in paper, and 50 cents in cloth.

By the dozen, in paper, $2 70
Postage per dozen copies, 30
By the dozen, in cloth, 4 50
Postage, 60
By the hundred, in paper, 20 00
 "     "         "       in cloth, 33 33



The following are a few of the notices given by the public press to this work in its first edition:

“It is invaluable as the only account of the most fiendish act of the war that is in a form to be preserved.”—Colonel A. K. McClure, in the Chambersburg “Franklin Repository,” Sept. 28, 1864.

“To readers of every class we take great pleasure in commending this truthful narrative as a valuable contribution to the history of the war.... The incidents of the burning are detailed by Dr. Schneck with a vividness which makes his account of that barbarous transaction as graphic as it is authentic.”—Editor of Washington “National Intelligencer,” Oct. 6.

“The source from which it proceeds carries with it sufficient authority as to the correctness of its statements. It will be read generally with interest and will doubtless receive a large circulation.”—“German Reformed Messenger,” Oct. 5.

“This little book should be read by every Pennsylvanian. The scenes therein so simply and yet so touchingly depicted, have no parallel for horror in any war among civilized nations except our own.”—Pittsburg “Evening Chronicle,” Oct. 14.

“I rejoice that this little book has met so rapid a sale, though I anticipated nothing less, as it is certainly one of the most thrilling narratives I have ever read. I shall send for a number of copies to be distributed here.”—Rev. Dr. W. B. Sprague, Albany, N. Y., in a letter to the author, Nov. 1, 1864.



Burnt by order of General Early, July 30, 1864.

Larger Image
1.Diamond or Square.  5.Noel’s.  10.Edgetool Factory.
2.Mansion House (Publication Office Ger. Ref. Church).  6.Courthouse.  11.Town Mills. Tannery and Paper-Mill.
2½.Etter and Hamilton.  7.Town Hall.  12.Paper-Mill and Brewery.
3.Franklin Hotel.  8.B. Chambers.  13.Academy.
4.Bank.  9.Col. McClure.  14.Dr. Fisher, &c. (Four houses on Main Street not burnt.)



[Pg i]
















[Pg ii]

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District
of Pennsylvania.





[Pg iii]


The first edition of this work having been exhausted in a single month, my worthy and enterprising publishers have encouraged the preparation of a second without delay.

It is hardly necessary to say, that the first edition was prepared under exceedingly unfavorable circumstances. Mind and body were in a state of exhaustion. For a month, and longer, the hours of each day were so much taken up with new and exciting cares and duties, as to unfit one in great measure for either mental or physical effort. Hence the unpretending little book was ushered into existence with a felt sense of its deficiencies.

An honest effort at improvement has been made in the present edition. No small portion of redundant matter has been left out, thus affording room for various statements which were not at hand before. I may here direct special attention to the masterly “Vindication of the Border” by Mr. Apple, the spirited contribution from the facile pen of Mr. Bausman, and the excellent article by Mr. Shryock. I have with forethought chosen to introduce other witnesses, besides myself, to testify in regard to the matter in hand, rather than to have the public rely upon my testimony only.

The list of names, with the amount of losses by those who owned houses, were to have been omitted in this edition; but so numerous were the protests from valued friends against such a course, that it has been allowed to remain. The space occupied by these details has, however, been reduced nearly one half, partly by employing smaller type, and partly by condensing the matter.

[Pg iv]The engraving prefixed to the present edition, representing the burnt portion of the town, will, it is hoped, be acceptable to the reader. A steel plate engraving of the ruins of the town would have been given, if any satisfactory representation in so small a compass could have been furnished. But the judgment of the artist decided against its feasibility, and in favor of that herewith presented.[1]

B. S. S.

Chambersburg, Oct. 31st, 1864.



[Pg 5]




My dear Friend:

Your request to give you a succinct and, as far as may be, detailed account of the terrible calamity with which our town was visited on the 30th day of July, is received. You are pleased to say, that not only my long residence in the place, but the fact that I had, as on former occasions, so also during the present one, remained at home, gives me a right to speak on the subject, without fear of cavil or sneer from those who are ready, either from ignorance or something worse, to misrepresent the facts in the case, or apply the ill-timed weapons of ridicule and sarcasm against statements which have appeared in print.[2] Passing by your other remarks, which I may be permitted to set down as emanating from personal partiality, I shall proceed to give you, as perfectly as I can, and as briefly[Pg 6] as the subject will allow, a somewhat detailed account of the terrible disaster, with an honest endeavor to avoid all special pleading and overdrawn statements, dealing only in simple matters of fact, as far as I have been able to gather them, either from personal knowledge or unquestionable authority.


The Military Situation on the Border.

Before proceeding directly to the narration of the terrible catastrophe, it may be well to glance at the military situation on our border. This seems the more necessary from the fact, that a very large portion of the public prints have been misled into the belief, and consequently have unwittingly led their readers to believe that, “if the citizens of Chambersburg had turned out to resist the enemy, the burning and pillage of the town could have been averted,” inasmuch as the rebel force, according to some statements, was very trifling, “scarcely numbering two hundred men.” You, my dear friend, are laboring under this erroneous belief yourself. Allow me, therefore, to turn your attention to the following facts, which are well established, and which can be corroborated by any amount of evidence.

General Couch, the commander of this military division, had under his control a company of about one hundred men at Mercersburg, sixteen miles southwest from here, and a section of a battery of artillery in this place. This was the entire military force in the Cumberland Valley, under the control of our military commander, at the time. Several Pennsylvania regiments which had previously been organized for the defence of the border, through the efforts of our vigilant Governor, had been summoned by[Pg 7] the General Government to Washington and the Potomac Army. One hundred men and two small cannon—that was all.

But you ask: “Was not General Averill near enough to have prevented the rebels from executing their nefarious design upon your town? and, if so, why did not General Couch inform him of the situation of affairs, and urge him forward?” The answer is at hand. General Couch did attempt to inform General Averill in time of the fact that the enemy, with a force about three thousand strong, had crossed the Potomac west of Williamsport, and was moving by way of Mercersburg and St. Thomas directly on Chambersburg. Averill was encamped one mile from Greencastle (ten from Chambersburg) on Friday night, July 29. The first two messengers with despatches from General Couch, could not find him. The third messenger succeeded accidentally in finding him after midnight in a field. Averill only now discovered that he had been flanked by the enemy, and expressed himself greatly surprised and chagrined to the messenger at this state of things. Whether he was to blame, it is not for me to say. It is sufficient for my purpose just now to know that, beyond two small cannon and one hundred men, we were without any military protection. And could the few hundred citizens of the place, most of them without firearms, be expected to make a resistance against such a force, and with six cannon planted on the hills overlooking the town? To ask the question is to answer it.

In reading over the two preceding paragraphs it occurred to me that the impression might have been made on your mind, that I wished to find fault with the General[Pg 8] Government for removing from us all military protection on our border. I have no wish to do so in this letter. I am no military man, and hence am not so positive in my opinions as many other men, who are doubtless far more capable of forming a judgment in such matters. I merely mention the simple facts as they are patent to all who had the best opportunities of knowing the true state of things. So, too, in regard to both the Generals named. There is, since the burning of our town, a very strong feeling of disapprobation in our community and elsewhere against both, especially against General Couch. I cannot as yet share this feeling. I know how apt we are, especially when smarting under severe personal losses or grievances, to look around for some object upon which, or some person on whom, to lay the blame. For my part, I would rather err on the side of charity than on the side of unjust fault-finding and denunciation. I prefer, until better advised, to endorse the views of my friend Colonel A. K. McClure, himself one of the sufferers, and well posted in such matters. He says:

“General Averill possibly might have saved Chambersburg, and I know that General Couch exhausted himself to get Averill to fall back from Greencastle to this point. I do not say that General Averill is to blame, for he was under orders from General Hunter, and not subject to General Couch. He had a large force of the enemy in his front, and until it is clearly proved to the contrary, I must believe that he did his whole duty.”

These two sentences are guardedly worded. “General Averill possibly might have saved Chambersburg.” The enemy, under McCausland, Bradley Johnson, and Gilmore, let it be recollected, had at least three thousand cavalry,[Pg 9] with artillery at command, eight hundred of the latter being in town, the rest within supporting distance. Johnson’s command occupied the high eminence one mile west of the town with a battery. No better position could have been desired. They were flushed at the prospect of plunder and pillage; their horses were fresh and sleek; their men resolute and defiant. On the other hand, Averill and his men had been worn out and jaded by long and heavy marches in Western Virginia for a number of consecutive weeks. Their horses were run down, and many of them ready to die, so that two hundred and fifty of these last could not be taken any farther, but were left here to recruit. It is therefore only possible, scarcely probable, that, even if Averill’s force of less than two thousand five hundred men had been here, a successful resistance could have been made under these circumstances. But Averill and his men were not here until several hours after the work of destruction was accomplished, and the enemy, gloating over his vengeful deeds, was miles away on the Western Turnpike, towards McConnellsburg.

Judge then, dear sir, how keenly we must feel the unjust reproaches heaped upon us by professed friends, after our houses are in ruins, our goods despoiled, and our hearts saddened at every step we take in beholding continuous squares of desolation in our once beautiful town. And reproaches for what? Because a picket guard of one hundred soldiers and a small number of citizens did not successfully resist more than three thousand[3] veteran cavalrymen, with cannon eligibly planted to lay waste the town without even coming into it. That[Pg 10] commanding position once gained by the enemy, and the town was at his mercy, no matter what force of cavalry or infantry might have been in Chambersburg.

Reproaches—and from whom and whence? From certain newspaper editors of New York; that same New York, which, with its population of half a million, could not quell its rabble mob last year, without having a part of the Potomac Army brought thither to guard some of the very newspaper offices from which those reproaches upon a helpless town in a neighboring State are now so unjustly heaped; those identical newspapers which have ever and anon sent forth paragraphs of bitter invective against Pennsylvania in general, and Chambersburg in particular, for the “ill treatment of the New York militia” at the hands of our citizens.[4] New York is a great State, and counts its noble and good men by hundreds of thousands; but like every large State with large towns and cities, she also counts her thousands of depraved creatures in human shape. And I speak from personal knowledge, for they were quartered for weeks near my late residence, when I say that of all the soldiers who were in this community since the commencement of this war, none have left behind them such a bad moral odor as have many of these men. Drunkenness, wanton destruction of property, thieving, fighting and stabbing[Pg 11] each other, (in some cases to death outright,) were frequent occurrences. And yet such men are not only allowed to vilify and abuse the people whom their misconduct has outraged, but certain New York sheets take up their cause and pour forth wormwood and gall upon the town, the community, and the State. Let a virtuous public pronounce its verdict.

Let me illustrate what kind of “defenders” these two regiments of New York militia were. On their arrival in the town, and whilst marching through it on their way to camp, about one mile south from here, some of the men received the hearty cheers of our citizens with sneering remarks about the necessity of coming “all the way from New York to protect Pennsylvania!” Just as if the protection of the border was not at the same time a protection of other States—perhaps, in certain contingencies, even of New York. But mark the sequel. They went to camp the same day of their arrival, with liberal supplies of everything. The border was known to be imperiled a second time, and a large portion of our citizens were armed and marched out with these regiments. During the night our scouts brought information to camp that the rebels were moving from the Potomac this way. And now a scene of confusion ensued which beggars description. In the greatest conceivable consternation, these “defenders” made for Chambersburg in “double-quick,” and took seats in the cars, “homeward bound.” Two interesting little circumstances, in connection with this allegro movement, must be added, of which hundreds of our citizens were eye-witnesses. The first is, that these “defenders,” in their hasty retreat, did not forget to provide for [Pg 12]themselves as safe a retreat as possible. To this end they ordered our citizen soldiers to keep in the rear—in military phrase, “to cover their retreat” until the militia-men had reached the cars in safety! The other little circumstance is, that in their hasty retreat, they left the whole of their camp equipage behind. At daylight the following morning you might have seen a score of wagons from the town returning with loads of tents, boxes, trunks, packages, and all sorts of military fixtures, and conveying them to the cars, in which they were sent as far as Shippensburg, by military orders. As the militia thought proper to hasten on farther to the north instead of protecting their own property, the wary rebels took unmolested possession of the whole of it on the same day!

I think you will agree with me in the remark that these men had not much capital to boast of in the way of bravery, although Pennsylvanians should not perhaps complain, when these “defenders” did no worse for us than they did for themselves, namely, beat a hasty retreat, and leave all their valuables to the enemy, even before they had a sight of him.

I would not have troubled you with this unpleasant chapter, if it were not necessary, in order to understand the animus of the splenetic course of the papers referred to. These editors, under the pretext of “defending the citizens of New York,” have most unaccountably, unjustly, and without the shadow of provocation, except it be the desolation and ruin of hundreds of homes and hearths, assailed and sneered at a deeply afflicted community, which has poured out of its former means to the soldiers of our armies at home and abroad without stint[Pg 13] and with cheerful alacrity, and by night and by day watched and ministered at the sick and dying beds of our soldiers without distinction of nation or State.

Yours, &c.




My dear Friend:

You are aware that the late incursion of the enemy was not the first visit we had from our Southern “friends.” In the fall of 1862 we had Stuart’s cavalry raid, and in 1863 the invasion by Lee’s army. Since the first of July of the present year, up to the time of McCausland’s advent, the entire community, especially the farmers, were kept in constant uneasiness. Twice before had they been robbed of horses, wagons, and grain. The wheat harvest had just commenced, and now the enemy was again on the border. During the first three weeks of July, the farmers felt it necessary to remove their most valuable personal property. Merchants packed up and sent away, at least a portion of their goods, eastward. But in each case the rebels did not come, and some degree of apathy in the community was the result. But this did not last long. On the morning of July 29th, unmistakable evidence of the crossing of squads of rebel cavalry over the Potomac, reached us. The citizens of Chambersburg, with very few exceptions, remained. Indeed, early in the evening we were assured that a considerable force of our troops were on their way from Harrisburg, which, [Pg 14]however, like many previous assurances, telegrams, and rumors, was not realized. Our scouts soon reported the near approach of the rebels, and by three o’clock on the morning of Saturday, the 30th, the citizens who had gone out with their arms and a section of the battery, having satisfied themselves of the overpowering strength of the enemy, fell back to town. Three shells were now thrown over the town by the rebels from the hills beyond, and as these did not elicit any reply, eight hundred and thirty-one of their number came to town, their skirmishers simultaneously investing every street and alley, gradually moving forward, and then halting until the signal or forward command was again given. We were once more in subjection to rebel rule. The centre of the town was filled with them. They called together several of the citizens who were on the street, requesting them to collect some of the prominent inhabitants, with a view to entering into negotiations. To this end the Court-House bell was rung. The summons to the citizens was very partially obeyed. It was felt that nothing could be done by negotiation, and that they must submit to pillage—the most they anticipated. The few who did come together were approached by Captain Fitzhugh, one of McCausland’s staff, who produced and read a written order, signed by General Jubal Early, directing the command to proceed to Chambersburg, demand a tribute of $100,000 in gold, or $500,000 in Northern currency, and, on the failure to secure this sum, to proceed to burn the town, in retaliation for the burning of six or eight houses specified as having been burned in certain counties in Virginia by General Hunter. The citizens stated that it was utterly impossible to pay the sum named either in gold or [Pg 15]currency, and that the demand could not be made in good faith. They further remonstrated against the monstrosity of burning a whole town of six thousand inhabitants, in retaliation for the six or eight houses named. So utterly incredulous were they as to the threat being actually carried out, that they expressed their incredulity without reserve. Captain Fitzhugh replied with a clinching oath, that these orders would be carried out very quickly. He immediately issued his orders to his men, a barrel of kerosene and matches were secured, and in less than twenty minutes the town was fired in a dozen places, and they continued the incendiary work for about one hour. I may here say, that most of the store-goods had been removed, and a few prominent citizens had left, but that no families, women, or children had departed. The burning was executed in a most ruthless and unrelenting manner.[5]

“A squad of men would approach a house, break open the door, and kindle a fire, with no other notice to the inmates, except to get out of it as soon as they could. In many cases, five, ten, fifteen minutes were asked to secure some clothing, which were refused. Many families escaped with only the clothing they had on, and such as they could gather up in their haste. In many cases they were not allowed to take these, but were threatened with instant death if they did not cast them away and flee. Sick and aged people had to be carried to the fields. The corpse of at least one person who had recently died, was hastily interred in the garden, and children, separated from their [Pg 16]parents, ran wildly screaming through the streets. Those whose stupor or eagerness to save something, detained them, emerged with difficulty from the streets filled with the sheeted flames of their burning homes. I should say here, that no provocation had been given; not a shot was fired on them in entering the town, and not until the full crisis was reached, did desperation, in a few instances, lead to desperate acts.

“As to the result, I may say that the entire heart or body of the town is burned. Not a house or building of any kind is left on a space of about an average of two squares of streets, extending each way from the centre, with some four or five exceptions, where the buildings were isolated. Only the outskirts are left. The Court-house, Bank, Town Hall, German Reformed Printing Establishment, every store and hotel in the town, and every mill and factory in the space indicated, and two churches, were burnt. Between three and four hundred dwellings were burned, leaving at least twenty-five hundred persons without a home or a hearth. In value, three-fourths of the town was destroyed. The scene of desolation must be seen to be appreciated. Crumbling walls, stacks of chimneys, and smoking embers, are all that remain of once elegant and happy homes.

“As to the scene itself, it beggars description. My own residence being in the outskirts, and feeling it the call of duty to be with my family, I could only look on from without. The day was sultry and calm, not a breath stirring, and each column of smoke rose black, straight, and single; first one, and then another, and another, and another, until the columns blended and commingled; and then one vast and lurid column of smoke and flame rose[Pg 17] perpendicularly to the sky, and spread out into a vast crown, like a cloud of sackcloth hanging over the doomed city; whilst the roar and the surging, the crackling and crash of falling timbers and walls, broke upon the still air with a fearful dissonance, and the screams and sounds of agony of burning animals, hogs, and cows, and horses, made the welkin horrid with sounds of woe. It was a scene to be witnessed and heard once in a lifetime.”

To you and other friends, more or less familiar with Chambersburg, it will be interesting to specify a little more particularly the localities which have been laid waste. Beginning on East Market street, the one leading from Gettysburg to Pittsburg, directly through the centre of the town from east to west, the burning commenced simultaneously with the Court-house and Mansion-house (Printing Establishment of the German Reformed Church). Facing the west from the Franklin railroad, the first building to the right is the residence of the Misses Denny, in a somewhat isolated position. This stands in its freshness and beauty, solitary and alone. Passing down two squares to the centre of the town, not one building and only two or three stables or barns remain on either side of this street of private residences, my own with all of my library and manuscripts, among the number. Passing further on westward for more than three squares in length, to the top of “New England Hill,” five or six more or less isolated houses remain. The large Franklin Hotel, the Arcade Buildings, John B. Cook’s houses and tannery, Riley’s Hotel, the late Matthew Gillan’s large dwelling, J. M. Wolfkill’s store and dwelling, G. W. Brewer’s and Mrs. Joseph Chambers’s beautiful residences, are among the many valuable properties on this street, in ruins.

[Pg 18]Then from North Main street (the street from Carlisle to Greencastle), beginning with Mr. Benjamin Chambers’s new residence, at the Falling Spring, and Mr. W. G. Reed’s, on the corner, and from here on every house on both sides up the square, on to the centre, across it to Queen street, and up to Washington street, with the exception of Rev. Dr. Fisher’s, Mr. Reineman’s, Lehner’s, and Feltman’s dwellings, every house, shop, stable, &c., is gone. This street, as you know, contained more than three-fourths of all our stores, ware-rooms, and shops of business. Then comes Queen street, at the intersection of Second street, beginning at Brandt’s (now Brown’s) hotel, which was only partially destroyed, sweeping every building (except Mrs. Brandt’s dwelling), on both sides down to the creek, over two squares, including Dr. Culbertson’s, N. Snider’s, Barnard Wolff’s, Mr. Wallace’s, and other valuable dwellings and stores. Between eleven and twelve squares of the best part of the town are, therefore, in ruins, among them houses of many, inhabitants, whom you knew in former years as among your dearest friends, and in comfortable or affluent circumstances, many of them now reduced to penury and want.

After I had written the preceding pages, I found a minute and well-written statement of the subject now in hand in the “Franklin Repository,” of this place, of August 24. I take pleasure in giving the following extracts from the same, instead of my own, as the matter was evidently prepared with judgment and care, under the supervision of its editor, Colonel McClure. He says:

“It seems inexplicable to persons and journals at a distance that General Couch, a Major-General commanding a department, with his border repeatedly invaded, should[Pg 19] have no troops. The natural inclination is to blame the commander, for it is reasonable to suppose that he would endeavor to have an adequate command, and also that ample authority would be given him to have sufficient force. Just where the blame belongs, we do not choose now to discuss; but we do know that it was no fault of General Couch that he was unable to defend Chambersburg. He organized a Provost Guard regiment, some twelve hundred strong, expressly for duty in his department; the men were enlisted under a positive assurance, based on the order authorizing the organization, that they were to be kept on duty in the department. They were ordered to General Grant after the battles of the Wilderness. He organized six regiments of one hundred days’ men before the advent of McCausland, and they were ordered to Washington as soon as they were ready to move. We are assured that Governor Curtin, fully two weeks before the burning of Chambersburg, formally pledged the State to make provision for arming, organizing, and paying the entire militia force of the border for home defence, if the General Government would simply give the uniforms; and we believe that General Couch pressed it upon the Washington authorities to uniform the entire force of the southern counties, assuring them that the people were willing to defend themselves if encouraged by granting them uniforms, so as to save them from inhuman butchery, but it was denied. We do not speak advisedly as to General Couch’s correspondence with the Washington authorities; we give no statements at his instance, or based upon information received from him or his officers; but we do write whereof we know, when we say that every effort was made to carry these[Pg 20] measures into effect, and that they were not sanctioned at Washington. While we do not assume to fix the responsibility of this terrible disaster, we do mean that it shall not fall upon a commander who was shorn of his strength and left helpless with his people.


The Rebels Enter Chambersburg

“The rebels having been interrupted in their entrance into the town until daylight, they employed their time in planting two batteries in commanding positions, and getting up their whole column, fully three thousand strong. About 4 o’clock on Saturday morning they opened with their batteries and fired some half a dozen shots into the town, but they did no damage. Immediately thereafter their skirmishers entered by almost every street and alley running out west and southwest; and finding their way clear, their cavalry, to the number of eight hundred and thirty-one, came in under the immediate command of General McCausland. General Bradley Johnson was with him, and also the notorious Major Harry Gilmore.


Plundering Promptly Commenced.

“While McCausland and Gilmore were reconnoitring around to get a deal with the citizens for tribute, his soldiers exhibited the proficiency of their training by immediate and almost indiscriminate robbery. Hats, caps, boots, watches, silverware, and everything of value, were appropriated from individuals on the streets without ceremony; and when a man was met whose appearance indicated a plethoric purse, a pistol would be presented to his head with the order to “deliver,” with a dexterity that[Pg 21] would have done credit to the freebooting accomplishments of an Italian brigand.


Tribute Demanded.

“General McCausland rode up to a number of citizens and gave notice that unless five hundred thousand dollars in greenbacks, or one hundred thousand dollars in gold were paid in half an hour, the town would be burned; but no one responded to his call. He was promptly answered that Chambersburg could not and would not pay any ransom. He had the Court House bell rung to convene the citizens, hoping to frighten them into the payment of a large sum of money, but no one attended. Infuriated at the determination of our people, Major Gilmore rode up to a group of citizens, consisting of Thomas B. Kennedy, William McLellan, J. McDowell Sharpe, Dr. J. C. Richards, William H. McDowell, W. S. Everett, Edward G. Etter, and M. A. Foltz, and ordered them under arrest. He said that they would be held for the payment of the money, and if not paid he would take them to Richmond as hostages, and also burn every house in town. While he was endeavoring to force them into an effort to raise him money, his men commenced the work of firing, and they were discharged when it was found that intimidation would effect nothing.


Burning of Chambersburg.

“The main part of the town was enveloped in flames in ten minutes. No time was given to remove women or children, the sick, or even the dead. No notice of the kind was communicated to any one; but the work of destruction was at once commenced. They divided into[Pg 22] squads and fired every other house, and often every house, if there was any prospect of plunder. They would beat in the door with iron bars or heavy plank, smash up furniture with an axe, throw fluid or oil upon it, and ply the match. They almost invariably entered every room of each house, rifled the drawers of every bureau, appropriated money, jewelry, watches and any other valuables, and often would present pistols to the heads of inmates, men and women, and demand money or their lives. In nearly half the instances they demanded owners to ransom their property, and in a few cases it was done and the property burned. Although we have heard of a number of persons, mostly widows, who paid them sums from twenty-five to two hundred dollars, we know of but few cases where the property was saved thereby. Few houses escaped rifling—nearly all were plundered of everything that could be carried away. In most cases houses were entered in the rudest manner, and no time whatever was allowed for the families to escape, much less to save anything. Many families had the utmost difficulty to get themselves and children out in time, and not one-half had so much as a change of clothing with them. They would rush from story to story to rob, and always fire the building at once in order to keep the family from detecting their robberies. Feeble and helpless women and children were treated like brutes—told insolently to get out or burn; and even the sick were not spared. Several invalids had to be carried out as the red flames licked their couches. Thus the work of desolation continued for two hours; more than half of the town on fire at once, and the wild glare of the flames, the shrieks of women and children, and often louder than all, the terrible blasphemy[Pg 23] of the rebels, conspired to present such a scene of horror as has never been witnessed by the present generation. No one was spared save by accident. The widow and the fatherless cried and plead in vain that they would be homeless and helpless. A rude oath would close all hope of mercy, and they would fly to save their lives. The old and infirm who tottered before them were thrust aside, and the torch applied in their presence to hasten their departure. In a few hours, the major portion of Chambersburg, its chief wealth and business, its capital and elegance, were devoured by a barbarous foe; three millions of property sacrificed; three thousand human beings homeless and many penniless; and all without so much as a pretence that the citizens of the doomed town, or any of them, had violated any accepted rule of civilized warfare. Such is the deliberate, voluntary record made by General Early, a corps commander in the insurgent army.


Incidents of the Burning.

We find it impossible to make room for all the many touching incidents which occurred in the burning of the town. The house of Mr. James Watson, an old and feeble man of over eighty, was entered, and because his wife earnestly remonstrated against the burning, they fired the room, hurled her into it and locked the door on the outside. Her daughters rescued her by bursting in the door before her clothing took fire. Mr. Jacob Wolfkill, a very old citizen, and prostrated by sickness so that he was utterly unable to be out of bed, plead in vain to be spared a horrible death in the flames of his own house; but they fired the building. Through the superhuman efforts of some friends he was carried away safely. Mrs. Lindsay,[Pg 24] a very feeble lady of nearly eighty, fainted when they fired her house, and was left to be devoured in the flames: but fortunately a relative reached the house in time, and lifting her in a buggy, pulled her away while the flames were kissing each other over their heads on the street. Mrs. Kuss, wife of the jeweller on Main Street, lay dead; and although they were shown the dead body, they plied the torch and burned the house. Mrs. J. K. Shryock had Mrs. Kuss’s sick babe in her arms, and plead for the sake of the dead mother and sick child to spare that house, but it was unavailing. The body of Mrs. Kuss was hurriedly buried in the garden, and the work of destruction went on. When the flames drove Mrs. Shryock away with the child, she went to one of the men and presenting the babe, said, “Is this revenge sweet?” A tender chord was touched, and without speaking he burst into tears. He afterwards followed Mrs. Shryock, and asked whether he could do anything for her; but it was too late. The houses of Messrs. McLellan, Sharpe and Nixon, being located east of the Franklin Railroad, and out of the business part of the town, were not reached until the rest of the town was in flames, and the roads were streaming with homeless women and children. Mr. McLellan’s residence was the first one entered, and he was notified that the house must be burned. Mrs. McLellan immediately stepped to the door, and laying one hand on the rebel officer, and pointing with the other to the frantic fugitive women and children passing by, said to him: “Sir, is not your vengeance glutted? We have a home and can get another; but can you spare no homes for those poor, helpless people and their children? When you and I and all of us shall meet before the Great Judge, can you justify this act?” He made no reply,[Pg 25] but ordered his command away, and that part of the town was saved. Mr. Holmes Crawford, an aged and most worthy citizen, was taken into an alley while his house was burning, and his pockets rifled. He was thus detained until it was impossible for him to get out by the street, and he had to take his feeble wife and sit in the rear of his lot until the buildings around him were burnt down. Father McCullom, Catholic priest of this place, was robbed of his watch. Colonel Stumbaugh was arrested near his home early in the morning, and, with a pistol presented to his head, ordered to procure some whiskey. He refused, for the very good reason that he had none and could get none. He was released, but afterwards re-arrested by another squad, the officer naming him, and was insulted in every possible way. He informed the officer that he had been in the service, and that if General Battles was present, they would not dare to insult him. When asked why, he answered, “I captured him at Shiloh, and treated him like a soldier.” A rebel Major present, who had been under Battles, upon inquiry, was satisfied that Colonel Stumbaugh’s statement was correct, ordered his prompt release, and withdrew the entire rebel force from that part of Second Street, and no buildings were burned. Mr. John Treher, of Loudon, was robbed by the rebels of $200 in gold and silver, and $100 in currency. Mr. D. R. Knight, an artist, started out to the residence of Mr. McClure when he saw Norland on fire, and on his way he was robbed of all his money by a squad of rebels. He reached the house in time to aid in getting the women away. Rebel officers had begged of him, before he started, to get the women out of town as fast as possible, as many[Pg 26] rebel soldiers were intoxicated and they feared the worst consequences.

Colonel McClure’s beautiful residence, one mile from the centre of the town, was evidently marked out for destruction, for no other house between it and the burnt portion of the town was fired. The Colonel was known as a prominent man in National and State affairs, and, after the raid of General Jenkins and the succeeding invasion by General Lee’s army, he had spoken of Jenkins and his men in no complimentary terms in the paper of which Colonel McClure is chief editor. And although no house in the community was more coveted by rebel officers to be quartered in than his, and for the reason, doubtless, that every comfort and luxury could be had in it, and although Mrs. McClure had, with her well known generosity and kindness of heart, ministered to the necessities and comforts of the sick and wounded insurgents, which were left during General Lee’s invasion, for which she has since received the most touching acknowledgments from some of them—yet, his property was doomed, irrevocably doomed to be burnt. Captain Smith, son of Governor Smith of Virginia, with a squad of men, passing by all the intervening houses, entered the devoted mansion with the information to Mrs. McClure, then and for some time before an invalid, that the house must be burned by way of retaliation. Ten minutes were given her in which to leave the house, and in less than ten minutes the flames were doing their work of destruction, and Mrs. McClure and the other members of the family at home, started on foot, in the heat of one of the hottest days I have ever known, in order to escape the vengeance of the chivalry. Whilst the flames were progressing in the house as well[Pg 27] as the large and well-filled barn, the Captain helped himself to Mrs. McClure’s gold watch, silver pitcher and other valuables. The gold watch and other articles were easily concealed, but the silver pitcher was rather unwieldy, and could not be secreted from profane eyes as he rode back through town from the scene of his triumph. He resolved, therefore, to give a public display of his generosity. He stopped at the house of the Rev. James Kennedy, and handed the pitcher to his wife, with the request, “Please deliver this to Mrs. Colonel McClure, with the compliments of Captain Smith.”


Humane Rebel Officers.

Fiendish and relentless as were McCausland and most of his command, there were notable exceptions, who bravely maintained the humanities of war in the midst of the infuriated freebooters who were plying the torch and securing plunder. Surgeon Abraham Budd was conversing with several citizens when the demand for tribute was made, and he assured all present that the rebel commander would not burn Chambersburg. In the midst of his assurances, the flames burst forth almost simultaneously in every part of the town. When he saw the fire break out, he wept like a child, and publicly denounced the atrocities of his commander. He took no part in it whatever, save to aid some unfortunate ones in escaping from the flames. Captain Baxter, formerly of Baltimore, peremptorily refused to participate in the burning, but aided many people to get some clothing and other articles out of the houses. He asked a citizen, as a special favor, to write to his friends in Baltimore and acquit him of the hellish work. Surgeon Richardson, another Baltimorean,[Pg 28] gave his horse to a lady to get some articles out of the burning town, and publicly deplored the sad work of McCausland. When asked who his commanding officer was, he answered, “Madam, I am ashamed to say that General McCausland is my commander!” Captain Watts manfully saved all of Second street south of Queen, and with his command aided to arrest the flames. He said that he would lose his commission rather than burn out defenceless people; and other officers and a number of privates displayed every possible evidence of their humanity. After the rebels had left, the following note was received by Rev. S. J. Niccolls, Presbyterian pastor, written on an envelope with a pencil:

Rev. Mr. Niccolls:

Please write my father and give him my love. Tell him, too, as Mrs. Shoemaker will tell you, that I was most strenuously opposed to the burning of the town.

B. B. Blair,
Chaplain, and son of Thomas P. Blair, Shippensburg, Pa.

That there was a most formidable opposition to burning the town in McCausland’s command was manifested in various ways. In the morning before daylight, when McCausland was at Greenawalt’s, on the turnpike west of Chambersburg, a most boisterous council was held there, at which there were earnest protests made to McCausland against burning anything but public property. McCausland was greatly incensed at some of his officers, and threatened them with most summary vengeance if they refused to obey orders.[6] Many, however, did openly [Pg 29]disobey, and went even so far as to give the utmost publicity to their disobedience.


The Order to Burn Chambersburg.

Captain Fitzhugh exhibited to J. W. Douglas, Esq., an attorney of this place, a written order, with the name of Jubal A. Early to it, directing that Chambersburg should be burned, in retaliation for the burning of six houses in Virginia by Hunter. The burning of Chambersburg was therefore by an order from one of the corps commanders of General Lee’s army, instead of the work of a guerrilla chief, thus placing the responsibility squarely upon the shoulders of General Lee. We have in support of this the statement of Rev. Mr. Edwards, Episcopal clergyman of Hagerstown, who was taken as a hostage after Chambersburg had been destroyed. He was brought to General Early’s headquarters at Williamsport, and there paroled to effect his exchange. General Early there informed him that he had directed Chambersburg to be burned, in retaliation for the destruction of property in Virginia by Grant, Meade, and Hunter, and that the account was now squared.



Several of the thieves who participated in burning Chambersburg were sent suddenly to their last account. An officer, whose papers identify him as Major Bowen, 8th Virginia cavalry, was conspicuous for his brutality and robberies. He got too far south of the firing parties[Pg 30] to be covered by them, and in his desire to glut his thievish propensities, he was isolated. He was captured by several citizens, in the midst of his brutal work, and was dispatched promptly. When he was fired at and slightly wounded, he took refuge in the burning cellar of one of the houses, and there, with the intense heat blistering him, he begged them to spare his life; but it was in vain. Half the town was still burning, and it was taxing humanity rather too much to save a man who had added the boldest robbery to atrocious arson. He was shot dead, and now sleeps near the Falling Spring, nearly opposite the depot.

Mr. Thomas H. Doyle, of Loudon, who had served in Easton’s battery, followed the retreating rebels towards Loudon, to capture stragglers. When beyond St. Thomas he caught Captain Cochran, quartermaster of 11th Virginia cavalry, and as he recognized him as one who had participated in the destruction of Chambersburg, he gave him just fifteen minutes to live. Cochran was armed with sword and pistols, but he was taken so suddenly by Mr. Doyle that he had no chance to use them. He begged piteously for his life, but Mr. Doyle was inexorable; the foe who burns and robs must die, and he so informed him peremptorily. At the very second he shot the thief dead, and found on his person $815 of greenbacks, all stolen from our citizens, and $1750 of rebel currency. His sword, belt, and pistols were brought to this place by Mr. Doyle.



[Pg 31]


My Dear Friend.

Allow me in this letter to send you part of an article which appeared in the German Reformed Messenger of September 7, in vindication of the border. It is from the pen of the Rev. T. G. Apple, of Greencastle, in this county. Mr. Apple is a corresponding editor of that paper, and one of the most cool, honest, and sagacious writers within the range of my acquaintance. The article referred to is as follows:


A Vindication of the Border.

“We have lived in the most exposed portion of the Pennsylvania border ever since the commencement of the war, and therefore feel that we have some right to speak in its vindication. It is very easy and somewhat natural for persons living away from the scene of danger to say what they would do under certain circumstances, if their homes were invaded. But for those who are willing to give the subject a little calm thought, the following considerations ought to be sufficient to show the error into which many seem to have fallen:

“1. The border counties are required, whenever a call is made, to make up their quotas for the national army. Their men are sent away to fight for the maintenance of the Government. Can it be expected, then, that these counties, after filling their quotas and paying their taxes, will be able still to turn out and maintain in the field an additional force, sufficient to protect them from invasion?[Pg 32] Is not the Government pledged, after it has taken their men and their money, to afford them protection, so far as it has ability? And have not these border counties a right to expect such protection? Is not the State under obligation to use all its power to afford protection to the remotest portion of its territory, so long as it demands the support of all its citizens?

“2. It has generally been conceded in the North, during this war, that what is called bushwhacking is contrary to the rules of war. A private citizen has no right to enjoy that protection and immunity which is accorded him by the armies, and then take his gun and shoot down a soldier. This, we think, is conceded, and it has been urged all along that private citizens who do so deserve summary execution. Suppose now that private citizens should employ violence against rebel soldiers, is it not plain that they would expose themselves to the vengeance of the rebel army, and that the end of it would be a war of savage butchery on both sides, a war of destruction and desolation? Would it not invite to pillage and arson and murder?

“3. But even if this had been attempted in the cases of invasion that have occurred, it would have been of no avail. Take the recent case of the capture and burning of Chambersburg. General Averill was not far from the place, with twenty-five hundred cavalry, when a detachment of Early’s corps, under McCausland, entered and burned it. If, then, General Averill felt himself too weak to interfere to prevent the rebels from entering the town, what could the unarmed citizens of such a place, without any one to lead them, have been able to do? It has been said by papers that ought to know better, that two or[Pg 33] three hundred rebels captured and burned the town. Is it not to be supposed that General Couch would know what could be done, and when he despaired of being able to hold the town and left it, would it not have been sheer madness for the citizens to have provoked the rebel soldiery to shoot them down in the streets, without being able to effect anything?

“Besides it must be remembered that the citizens of Chambersburg did not know, and had no right to expect, that the rebel force intended burning their town before they entered it. As unarmed private citizens they submitted to what could not be averted, and expected to be treated according to the rules of war, under which private citizens are protected from personal injury by soldiers.

“That farmers should send away their horses, and merchants their goods, at the approach of the enemy, is not only natural, but eminently wise and proper. Allowing them to remain at home, without the ability to defend them from capture, would be giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

“As against New York, the city whose leading papers have been vilely slandering the border counties of Pennsylvania, the case would seem to need no explanation or vindication. It is still remembered how that city found it necessary to have regiments from our armies to come to their rescue in putting down a riot caused by opposition to the draft. It is known, too, how anxiously they clamor for the Government to provide ample defences for their harbor against some rebel iron-clad that might slip in unawares and destroy their city. If New York needs monster guns to protect it from the enemy, is it wrong[Pg 34] for Pennsylvania to expect arms and men to be furnished by the Government, to protect her borders from invasion?

“As to the kind of philanthropy that would thus vilify and slander a town lying in ashes, and its inhabitants houseless and homeless, what terms can characterize it? It is not only unchristian but inhuman. These things are past, but they are not forgotten.

“Chambersburg had a right to claim help in its calamity, not as a charity, but as a right. But in these times rights are not always accorded. Some sections have to suffer more than others, who do fully as much in men and money to support the government. This is to be expected. Let us try at least to be just in our judgment.”

The following is from the graphic pen of the Rev. B. Bausman, late pastor of the German Reformed congregation here, now of the city of Reading, likewise a corresponding editor of the paper referred to, and author of “Sinai and Zion,” an interesting volume of Travels in the Holy Land. Mr. B. hastened to the scene of ruin as soon as the telegraph informed him of the fearful calamity. After a suitable introduction, he furnishes the following incidents and reflections:

“Persons were fired upon, who attempted to extinguish the flames. A rebel soldier threatened a young man to ‘blow his brains out’ if he would not let the fire burn. With a revolver in hand, his sister rushed out of an adjoining room, her eyes flashing with a more terrible fire than that of rebel kindling: ‘Begone, thou brutal wretch!’ said the heroine, as she aimed with precision at the rebel’s head, who scampered away in a terrible fright.

“Three sides around a lady’s home (Mrs. Denig’s) are[Pg 35] on fire. The fourth is enclosed with an iron fence. An attempt to cross the fence burns her palm into crisp. She sits down in the middle of her narrow lot. Around her she folds a few rugs, dipped in water, to shelter her person against the heat. An old negro crouches down by her side, and helps to moisten the rugs. Her face, though covered, is blistered by the intense heat. Now and then God sends a breath of wind to waft the hot air away, and allows her to take breath. Virtually, it was a martyrdom at the stake, those two hours amid the flames. Only after she was rescued did the sight of her ruined home open the fountain of tears. ‘Don’t cry, missus,’ said Peter, the old negro; ‘de Lord saved our lives from de fire.’ In a few hours two thousand people are scattered through the suburbs of the town, in the fields, on the cemetery, amid the abode of the dead. A squad of rebels seized a flag, which a lady happened to have in her house. With some difficulty, she wrested it from their grasp, folded it around her person, and walked away from her burning house, past the furious soldiery, determined that the flag should become her shroud ere it should fall into the hands of the foe.

“Never was there so little saved at an extensive fire. Sixty-nine pianos were consumed. The most sacred family relics, keepsakes and portraits of deceased friends, old family Bibles, handed down from past generations, and the many objects imparting a priceless value to a Christian home, and which can never be replaced, were all destroyed.

“In the dim moonlight we meditated among the ruins. Chimney-stacks and fragments of walls formed the dreary outline of ruined houses. Not a light was left but the[Pg 36] fitful glowing of embers, amid the rubbish that fills the cellars. The silence of the grave reigns where oft we have heard the voice of mirth and music, of prayer and praise. Now and then some one treads heavily along in the middle of the street; for the pavements are blocked up with fallen walls.

“Here we must pause a moment. More than fifty years ago, a happy young man brought his bride into yonder house, now in ruins. One room sufficed, on the second floor. A happier pair could not be found in the halls of affluence. The first day they said: ‘We will build an altar here.’ Around it they daily knelt. In 1812, the husband tore himself away from his weeping bride, to drive the British foe from our soil. From that day to this, his heart was aglow with the fire of Christian patriotism. Children were born to them, and children’s children. By industry, thrift and piety, they acquired a competent fortune, meanwhile giving much to Christ and His kingdom. Their children, too, they gave to Him. The first room continued a sacred ‘upper room.’ There were portraits, books and family keepsakes of fifty years’ gathering. Mementos of sorrow and joy were treasured up therein. Some years ago, the once happy bride, then an aged matron, died. Her death was like the falling of a great shadow on a sun-lit home. By this time the silvery locks of age adorned the brow of the bridegroom. Sorrow had made his home doubly sacred; trials riveted his heart to it. Still he prayed and read his old family Bible in the room where first he built the altar. With what a cheerful, buoyant spirit he bore the burdens of age! Under this room was a store, with a considerable quantity of powder. The fire is already hissing around[Pg 37] the kegs. Still he lingers in his dear chamber, as if preferring death there to safety elsewhere. The violence of friendship forces him away just before the fatal explosion. Every domestic memorial, which piety and affection have gathered for more than half a century, are in the ashes. Two cases these, out of three hundred. Thousands of domestic and social ties bind the members of communities and of families together. To tear up and sunder all in a few hours, and cut hundreds of hearts loose from the moorings of past generations—who can fathom such a sorrow!

“The Rev. P. S. Davis, who lately entered upon the pastorate of the First Reformed Church, sustained a serious loss. A great portion of the clothing of his family and his manuscripts, the literary fruits of an earnest, laborious ministry, were consumed. Dr. Schneck vainly contended with the flames. His cozy, substantial house, with all that it contained—the costly relics borne home from two European tours, his valuable library, all his manuscripts, precious domestic keepsakes and furniture—all are a heap of undistinguishable ruins. To begin the world anew at his time of life, presents a cheerless prospect. Dr. Fisher’s is one of the four fortunate homes that were saved in the burned district.”




My dear Friend:

In your last letter, you ask me what are the feelings of our people, especially the immediate sufferers, under the severe stroke which has befallen them; whether desponding[Pg 38] or otherwise, and whether the spirit of “retaliation for the bitterly severe losses and deprivations does not largely manifest itself among them.”

In regard to the first, I am enabled to say, that during the whole course of my life, I have not witnessed such an absence of despondent feeling under great trials and sudden reverses of earthly fortune, never such buoyancy and vigor of soul, and even cheerfulness amid accumulated woes and sorrows, as I have during these four weeks of our devastated town. And I leave you to imagine the many cases of extreme revulsion from independence and affluence to utter helplessness and want. The widow and fatherless, the aged and infirm, suddenly bereft of their earthly all, in very many instances, even of a change of clothing. Large and valuable libraries and manuscripts, the accumulations of many years; statuary, paintings, precious and never-to-be-replaced mementoes—more valuable than gold and silver—gone forever. And yet amid all these losses and the consequent self-denial and the necessity of adapting themselves to another and almost entirely different state of things, to which the great majority of the people were subjected, you seldom see a sad or sombre countenance on the street or elsewhere. Exceptions there are doubtless, traceable in part to feeble physical constitution, in part also to an inordinate love of and dependence upon transitory objects. But in a general way the sufferers by this wholesale devastation are among the most patient, unmurmuring, cheerful, hopeful people I have ever known. God really seems to have given special grace in a special time of need. When, on the morning after the burning and pillage (God’s sweet day of rest) I attempted to preach to an humble flock of Germans,[Pg 39] whom I serve once a Sabbath, a godly woman belonging to the little congregation wept nearly during the whole service. On the way to my lodging-place, I overtook her and found her still in tears. Fearing I had been misinformed as to her safety from the recent calamity, I asked for the cause of her grief. “I weep for others, my dear pastor,” she replied, “and not altogether and entirely for others either, for I fear me that if my little all had been burnt before my eyes, I should not have had grace to bear up as you and the rest are enabled to do.” And then with an outburst of irrepressible emotion, she added: “And you can yet exhort us to forgive these our enemies, and not murmur and repine under all this, as not only you yourself but others have said, we should do. It’s this that makes me weep.”

I freely confess that I have never experienced in my own case, nor in the case of others, even under comparatively light and trifling losses and deprivations, such resignation, such quiet, gentle submission, and such calm endurance, amid the loss of all things, as in this instance. To such an extent have been these manifestations, that persons from neighboring towns, and strangers from a distance who in great numbers have visited the place, almost universally remark upon it. A highly intelligent and pious woman in a remote part of the county, a few days after the burning, called at the house in which a number of the homeless ones were kindly cared for. The large dining-table was surrounded by those who, a few days before, were in possession of all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. Pleasant and cheerful conversation passed around the board. The visitor alone seemed sad and out of tune. Tears stood in her eyes as she[Pg 40] looked around upon us. “I am amazed beyond measure at you all,” she said. “I expected to see nought but tears, hear only lamentations and sighs, and here you are as I have seen and known you in your bright and happy days, calm, serene, and even cheerful!” When one of our number replied, that no tear over the losses sustained had yet been shed by herself, but many tears at the numerous tokens of Christian sympathy and generous aid from far and near to relieve the immediate necessities of the sufferers, she added, “God be thanked for your words; they flow like precious ointment, deep down into my heart. Oh, what a commentary on the promised grace of God!” And we all felt, I am sure, that among the many gifts of our heavenly Father, not the least was

“A cheerful heart,
That tastes those gifts with joy.”

And in regard to the feeling of revenge, so natural to the human heart, I have been gratifyingly disappointed. Among the heaviest sufferers, by far the largest proportion have not only expressed themselves decidedly opposed to the spirit of retaliation, but have used their best efforts to dissuade our soldiers from carrying their threats into execution when an opportunity should offer. They have gone farther, and have drawn up a petition in which they earnestly implore the Government in Washington to prevent to the utmost anything of the kind on the part of our army. They believe it to be morally wrong, no matter what may be the provocation from the other side, and have always condemned the destruction of private property by our troops in the South, whenever isolated instances of the kind were reported. They believe, [Pg 41]moreover, with our wise and judicious Governor, that retaliation “can do no good to our own people, but a great deal of harm, because we have more towns, villages, flouring and other mills to be destroyed in three counties than our enemies in the Southern States have in fifteen or twenty counties.”

Such a wholesale, premeditated, and cruel work of destruction as the burning of Chambersburg, was never perpetrated by Union troops, and when Richmond papers have said so, they have said what the facts in the case did not warrant. It must be admitted, however, that in too many instances, Union troops did destroy private property unnecessarily and wantonly. We hope in God it will never be done again. We trust our commanding officers in the army will not allow passion to set aside moral principle, military rule, and military honor. Within sight of our charred and desolated homes, we implore and beseech them not to bring reproach upon our Government, trample upon all law and order, inaugurate cruel barbarity instead of civilized warfare, and be guilty of such accumulated horrors as have been enacted here. And yet all this, and much more, will follow with unerring certainty, if the immoral, dishonorable, and unmilitary spirit of retaliation is carried into effect. God in mercy forbid it!

In this connection, and for the purpose of showing that I am not alone in the views expressed as regards the destruction of private property by Union troops on the one hand, and the exaggerated or untrue statements of the Southern press on the other, I will quote the following paragraphs from the pen of Colonel McClure, in his paper already referred to. I suppose his statements come as near the truth as can well be ascertained. He says:

[Pg 42]“Jacksonville (Florida) was fired at a single point when our troops were retreating from it, because citizens fired on our men from the houses, and unfortunately most of the town—composed of wooden structures—was destroyed. The firing was in accordance with a well-recognized rule, that civilians who shelter themselves in their houses to fire upon troops, shall not only lose their property but suffer death. In Alexandria an accidental fire, resulting from a party of intoxicated soldiers, threatened the destruction of the entire town, owing to its inflammable buildings and unfavorable winds; but it was arrested before one-third of the village—the poorest portion of it—was burned. At the head of the force detailed to put out the fire was Major-General Banks in person, and by his orders and efforts the town was saved. Jackson (Mississippi) was partially destroyed by our guns when it was defended by the rebels, but it was not fired and burned by our troops after possession was gained. Wrongs, even atrocities, may have been committed by individual soldiers or isolated commands; but no such thing as deliberate and wanton burning and robbing of houses was practised by the Union army. Colonel Montgomery committed gross outrages on private citizens in two raids in South Carolina, which we have never seen reason to justify; but he was deprived of his command, or at least subordinated, and it may be dismissed, as he should have been. Kilpatrick burned mills unwarrantably, as we have ever believed, and other Union commanders may have done the same; but it was some excuse that they were filled with rebel supplies. While McCausland was on his way to Chambersburg to lay it waste, General Rousseau was penetrating the richest part of Georgia, and not a single[Pg 43] private house or building of any kind was destroyed, nor were his soldiers permitted to enter a residence on the route. When private property was near to Government stores, which he had to fire, he detailed men to save all but the buildings belonging to or used by the rebel government. General Stoneman enforced the same rules rigidly in all his raids, and so did Grierson. The Union troops have captured and occupied hundreds of rebel towns since the war has commenced, and they have yet for the first time to demand the freebooter’s tribute, or destroy a town by order of a commanding officer. Repeatedly have our troops been fired upon and murdered by skulking rebels who protected themselves in their dwellings; but in no case has a town been destroyed therefor.”




My dear Friend:

After my last letter was beyond my control, I became acquainted with some additional incidents which may interest you.

A lady, well known to me, the mother of a large family of children, was ordered to leave the house in five minutes, as the house must be burned. She collected them all around her to obey the cruel summons. Preparations were at once made to fire the building in the rooms above and below, and as the family group walked out of the large and beautiful mansion, the children burst into[Pg 44] loud weeping. “I am ashamed of you,” said the tenderly loving, yet heroic woman, “to let these men see you cry,” and every child straightened up, brushed away the falling tears, and bravely marched out of the doomed home.

An elderly woman, of true Spartan grit, gave one of the house-burners such a sound drubbing with a heavy broom, that the invader retreated, to leave the work of destruction to be performed by another party, after the woman had left to escape the approaching flames of the adjoining buildings.

The wife of a clergyman succeeded in preventing one of the enemy from firing her house, by reminding him that she had fed him during Stuart’s raid in 1862, and that she also ministered to him when he was in the hospital in this place in the summer of 1863. The man recognized her, and frankly declared that he could not be so base as to destroy her house, now that he remembered her kind offices. He had been wounded and made a prisoner at the battle of Gettysburg, was brought to the hospital here, and afterwards exchanged.

Mr. Jacob Hoke, one of our most worthy and enterprising merchants, has furnished the following statement of facts and incidents for publication in the Religious Telescope, of Dayton, Ohio. As his residence and store were located in the centre of the town, he had an opportunity of witnessing the scenes of the day to greater advantage than most others. I may as well inclose the principal part of his article, as it explains more fully several general statements before given, whilst, at the same time, it brings out some points not alluded to before:

[Pg 45]Mr. Editor: Not having seen in any published report, a satisfactory account of the late rebel raid on Chambersburg, and being a resident here, and an eye-witness, I will hastily sketch what came under my own observation, and what I have from reliable persons. In Thursday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, the correspondent at Frederick stated “that our troops were in such numbers, and so situated, that for the first time in the history of the war, glorious news might be expected from the Shenandoah Valley.” Very high military authority, but a few days prior to the raid, assured us “that every ford of the Potomac was strictly watched; that it was impossible for the enemy to cross; that if they only would cross it would be the best thing that could happen, as they could never get back again.” In this way our community was lulled into comparative security, until on Friday noon, July 29th, it was announced that the rebels had crossed in considerable force at Williamsport, and also at Cherry Run. No one could depict the scene of excitement which then occurred. Merchants and others commenced packing, shipping, and otherwise disposing of their valuables.

At eight o’clock in the evening General Hunter’s large wagon train commenced passing through our town toward Harrisburg, and continued passing during the greater part of the night. At least fifteen hundred cavalry and two hundred infantry passed through with that train as guards and as stragglers. That these men were not stopped here by General Couch, who did not leave town until three o’clock in the morning, is explained by the assertion that they were under orders from General Hunter to guard his train. That train was entirely safe after it had passed through Chambersburg, and that body of men, judiciously posted,[Pg 46] could, with the artillery in town, and the citizens, have held the enemy in check until Averill could arrive, who was then ten miles distant, and threatened in his front by a force of rebels who, it is now evident, were only making a demonstration to hold him until the other and heavier column under McCausland and Gilmore, could effect their object in Chambersburg.

I sat at my window on the corner of the Diamond and saw them enter. Skirmishers, dismounted, led the advance, followed by cavalry. They came in simultaneously in all the streets and alleys, and called to each other as a signal, when they reached the centre of the Diamond. In five minutes after, a force of about five hundred cavalry filed around the Public Square, and immediately commenced the work of plunder. The first building broken open was Mr. Paxton’s shoe and hat store; then the liquor stores adjoining my residence. I met them at my store door and unlocked it, when about twenty entered and commenced a thorough search. Finding it empty, they inquired where I had my goods, to which I replied, I had shipped them to Philadelphia. Returning from the room, I locked the door, and sat down by it, and entered into conversation with a gentlemanly-looking man, who informed me he was the Chaplain to McCausland’s command. He gave his name as Johnson, born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and said he was a Methodist preacher. During our conversation an officer dismounted at my door, tied his horse, and listened to our conversation, where he remained until the circumstance occurred to which I shall presently refer. The Chaplain said to me, “Do you reside in this house?” I replied affirmatively. He then said they were rolling several barrels of[Pg 47] combustible matter into the Court House, near my residence; that they were going to burn it, and I had better try to save something from our house. Leaving these two men at the door, I ran up stairs and carried a load of precious articles from the parlor table, consisting of a valuable family Bible, books, photograph album, &c., to a neighbor’s house, where I presumed they would be safe. They were all burned there, however. Next, I carried some bed-clothing to a different part of the town, and they were saved. Returning to the house, I encountered a rebel officer in one of the rooms. Said he: “Do you belong to this house?” On my replying in the affirmative, he said: “My friend, for God’s sake, tell me what you value most, and I will take it to a place of safety. They are going to burn every house in the town.” I told him if that was the case, it was no use to remove anything, as they might as well burn here as elsewhere.

By this time my wife and two other occupants of the house came down stairs each with a carpet-bag packed with clothing. The officer followed us to the door and entreated one of the women to mount his horse and ride him off, as he declared he did not want him any more in the rebel service. Another man unbuckled his sword and put it in our house, in disgust at the scene before him. It was afterwards found among the ruins. At the door I found the officer previously referred to, weeping bitterly. The flames were bursting from buildings all around us. “See,” said he, “this is awful work. O God! O, my God, has it come to this, that we have to be made a band of thieves and robbers by a man like McCausland!” I have seen many men weep, but never did I see a strong, robust man hide from his sight, with his handkerchief, the[Pg 48] appalling scene, and cry at the top of his voice, “O God! O mighty God!—See, see!”

Imagine the feelings of my family, when an hour before this, without intending to select any particular passage of God’s Word, I read the 138th Psalm, in which the following words occur: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me: Thou shalt stretch forth Thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and Thy right hand shall save me.” We knelt in prayer and surrounded the breakfast-table under the conviction that it was for the last time in that dear home. Then came the hasty snatching of precious relics of dear departed ones, passing hurriedly from room to room, leaving clothing, beds, furniture, library, pictures—all to the devouring flames. In our parlor hung the photographs of several of our bishops, with many others. These were either carried away by the rebels or burned. At the door we encountered the incident previously narrated. Leaving the weeping officer, we pressed through flame and smoke, amidst burning buildings, to the suburbs of the town, where we sat down and watched four hundred buildings in flames, two hundred and seventy-four of which were dwelling-houses, the affrighted occupants running wildly through the streets, carrying clothing and other articles, while screams of anguish from lost children in pursuit of parents, the feeble efforts of the old and infirm to carry with them some endeared article from their blazing homes, the roaring and crackling flames, falling walls and blinding smoke, all united to form a picture of horror, which no pen could describe, no painter portray. For three hours the fire raged. At about 11 o’clock, the rebels left town, as Averill’s scouts captured five rebels within one mile of the[Pg 49] town. In three hours after their exit, Averill filed through the streets.



In our flight through the streets, the rebel officer alluded to followed us half a square, entreating one of the women to mount and ride off his horse, declaring that he was done with the rebel service. No sooner did he turn away, than another rode up and demanded our carpet-bags; we ran on, and he turned back without them. Brother Winton, while fleeing with his wife and little children, was stopped by a cavalryman and compelled to deliver his shoes and hat. Hundreds of robberies occurred of hats, shoes, watches, money, &c. An old and very estimable lady, who had not walked for three years, was told to run, as her house was on fire. She replied that she had not walked for three years. With horrid curses, the wretch poured powder under her chair, declaring that he would teach her to walk; and while in the act of applying fire to his train, some neighbors ran in and carried her away.

The burning mass appeared to converge toward the Diamond, forming fearful whirlwinds, which at times moved eastwardly along the line of Market street. At one time an immense whirlwind passed over where a large lot of bedding and wearing apparel had been collected. Large feather beds were lifted from the ground. Shirts and lighter articles were conveyed with fearful velocity high in the air, alighting at a great distance from where they lay. It was grand and fearful, adding to the horror of the scene. In many cases soldiers set fire to houses, and to the tears and entreaties of women and children they said their “orders were to burn. We will fire; you[Pg 50] can do as you please after we go away.” An officer rode up to our parsonage, and thus addressed Mrs. Dickson: “Madam, save what you can; in fifteen minutes we will return and fire your house.” They did not return. Our church and parsonage were saved. The printing establishment of the German Reformed Church was completely destroyed, with all the valuable presses, books, the bindery, &c. Dr. Fisher estimates the loss to the Church at over forty thousand dollars. Those of our readers who know the town will understand the extent of this destruction from the following:

Beginning at the Presbyterian lecture-room on the north, the fire swept every building on the west side of Main street, except four, up to Washington street, four squares; from King street on the north, every building on the east side of Main street up to Washington, three squares; from the Franklin Railroad to nearly the top of New England Hill, five squares, on both sides of the street; also eight or ten dwellings over the top of New England Hill; from the Market-house down Queen street, both sides, to the edge-tool factory, and several buildings on the street running parallel with the creek, up to Market street, with many buildings on Second street from Market, up near the Methodist Church. The Methodist, German Reformed, and Lutheran churches saved the parts of the town in which they were situated from being involved in the general conflagration. The Associate Reformed and Bethel churches, the latter belonging to “The Church of God,” were burned. The Associate Reformed was used as headquarters for drafted men; hence its destruction. The “Bethel”—so marked on a stone in the front—was supposed by the fiends to be a negro[Pg 51] church. In most cases fire was kindled in beds or bureaus by matches, and in balls of cotton saturated in alcohol or kerosene.

I saw men and officers drinking liquor as it was carried from the hotels, the doors of which they broke open. Many were drunk. Women were insulted; cruel taunts and threats were repeatedly made.

I have thus hastily sketched the foregoing facts, for such they are. The reader will remember they are written by one who lost heavily by the fire; is now surrounded by the extended ruins; is aware of the sufferings and heart-breakings of over two thousand men, women, and children, many of whom have been reduced from affluence to poverty, are now dependent for the bread they eat, the clothes they wear, and the houses that shelter them, upon others more favored.

J. Hoke.

Chambersburg, August 10, 1864.

I also append to the foregoing the following graphic letter in the Pittsburgh Evening Chronicle, afterwards copied in the Chambersburg Franklin Repository. It is from the pen of the Rev. S. J. Niccolls, the esteemed pastor of the Presbyterian congregation in this place.

“So much misapprehension exists in many quarters concerning the facts connected with the burning of Chambersburg, that it has become a matter of justice to a wronged and suffering community to state them fully to the public. Many things have been written concerning this calamity, true in themselves, but disconnected from[Pg 52] their attending circumstances, and so the most injurious impressions have been made on the minds of those who live remote from the border. A connected and truthful narrative of this sad event, it is hoped, will correct these.

“The history of the past month commences with the advance of Early up the Shenandoah, and the invasion of Maryland. The enemy, about fifteen hundred strong, soon occupied Hagerstown, and it was believed that they intended a raid on Chambersburg. At this time there were three hundred soldiers in the place, under command of General Couch, the whole number available in his department. The citizens rallied around these, and determined to defend the town. Barricades were thrown across the streets, cannon planted, houses occupied by sharpshooters, and every preparation made for defence. Soon, however, the enemy fell back across the Potomac, and the invasion was declared to be ended. The small body of troops under General Couch were withdrawn to protect the national Capital, and we were left defenceless. We were assured, however, that the fords of the Potomac were well guarded, and a large army lay between us and the rebels. The very papers in New York which now condemn us for our apathy were daily assuring us that it was “all quiet on the Potomac,” and that the enemy had fallen back. We were soon startled from our dream of security by the announcement that General Crooks had been defeated, and the rebels were again advancing to invade Pennsylvania.

“We did not then take arms, because it was plain to every one that if the forces of Crooks and Averill could not resist their advance, it would be folly in a few citizens to attempt it. We had seen an invasion once before, and[Pg 53] knew what it meant. Anticipating a repetition of the scenes of last year, the people of the county began to remove their stock and valuables. In the midst of conflicting rumors nothing could be learned of the movements of the enemy until Friday, July 29th. In the afternoon of that day it was known that they had crossed the Potomac, and were advancing rapidly on Chambersburg. We also learned from Mercersburg that the invading force was three thousand strong, or as it afterwards appeared, by actual count, thirty-one hundred, with six pieces of artillery. To meet this force there were in the town one hundred soldiers, with two pieces of artillery, and the citizens capable of bearing arms. The number of the latter would not reach three hundred, a large portion of the population being already in the army, and quite a number absent, attending to the removal of their horses and valuables. The citizens who remained were willing to defend the place, had it been deemed practicable by General Couch; but with this small and inadequate force at his disposal, it seemed like courting destruction for the town to attempt its defence. A show of resistance, which none could hope would be successful, would only give them a pretext for burning. No word could be obtained from General Averill, who was then near Greencastle, though the most earnest efforts were made by General Couch to obtain his assistance.

“At four o’clock A. M. on Saturday the military authorities left, and soon after the combined forces of McCausland and Bradley Johnson were placed in line of battle upon the range of hills commanding the town. The Eighth Virginia regiment, numbering about five hundred[Pg 54] men, was thrown forward into the streets. These were detailed to burn the place....

“The scene that speedily followed is indescribable in its horrors. The soldiers went from house to house, bursting open the doors with planks and axes, and entering, split up the furniture to kindle the fire, or else scattered combustible materials in the closets and along the stairways, and then applied the torch. In a little over half an hour the whole town was fired, so complete were their arrangements to accomplish their hellish designs. No time was given the inhabitants to save anything. The first warning of danger most of them had was the kindling of the fire in their houses, and even the few articles that some caught up in their flight were seized by the soldiers and flung back into the flames. Many such instances have come to the writer’s knowledge, that in their dark malignity almost surpass belief. The aged, the sick, the dying, and the dead were carried out from their burning homes; mothers with babes in their arms, and surrounded by their frightened little ones, fled through the streets, jeered and taunted by the brutal soldiery. Indeed their escape seemed almost a miracle, as the streets were in a blaze from one end to the other, and they were compelled to flee through a long road of fire. Had not the day been perfectly calm, many must have perished in the flames.

“The conflagration in its height was a scene of surpassing grandeur and terror. A tall black column of smoke rose up to the very skies; around it were wrapped long streamers of flames, writhing and twisting themselves into a thousand fantastic shapes, while through it, as though they were prayers carried heavenward by the[Pg 55] incense of some great altar sacrifice, there went up on the smoky, flame-riven clouds the cries and shrieks of the women and children. But the moment of greatest alarm was not reached until some of the more humane of the rebel officers warned the women to flee, if they wished to escape violence to their persons. We cannot, in this letter, describe the scenes of the sad flight which followed.

“The ferocity of the rebel soldiers during this affair seems almost incredible. With all their fierce passions unrestrained, they seemed to revel in the work of destruction. An aged elder of the Presbyterian church was taken from his house and robbed; the building was fired while his wife, aged and infirm, was still in it. Upon his return, it was with the utmost difficulty she was saved. Escape by the street was impossible, and they were compelled to flee to a little garden in the rear of the house, where they sat for hours, surrounded by fire. The rebel Gilmore forbade a lady to remove her trunks from her house, and upon her telling him to his face what she thought of his conduct, he drew his pistol and declared “he would blow out her brains if she did not take that back.” Many such instances, and worse, might be recorded. There were, indeed, some among them who acted humanely, refusing to do the work assigned them, but they were exceptions.

“As soon as the town was thoroughly fired at all points, the rebels fell back. On their way out they burned the residence of the County Superintendent of Public Schools, because, as they told his family, ‘he had taught negroes.’ Two hours after their departure, General Averill entered the town, and we were once more inside the Union lines.

“Such is the story of the burning of Chambersburg.[Pg 56] These outlines, however, form a poor picture of the reality. The blackened ruins of this once beautiful town must first be seen before the calamity can be understood, and not then, for it is only by looking at it in detail, by understanding the peculiar sadness there is in each separate loss, and seeing the strange diversity of sorrow there is in this common woe, that one can realize the full extent of the ruin. Eleven squares of blackened ruins and over three millions of dollars in property consumed is the outward estimate of the loss. But who can write the history of two thousand people suddenly made homeless, dashed from affluence to poverty, torn violently from the sacred associations of the past, and driven forth houseless wanderers among strangers?

“The question is often asked, ‘Who is responsible for this calamity?’ Many coldly and unhesitatingly lay it upon the citizens themselves; but surely it is not necessary to argue that a few hundred citizens could not have resisted successfully three thousand veteran soldiers with six pieces of artillery. Many, too, have blamed General Couch, and false representations have gone forth that the citizens were greatly incensed against him. The writer of this letter has had peculiar opportunities of knowing the true state of the case, and would ask attention to the following facts. When General Couch took command of this department one year ago, he urged upon the citizens the necessity of forming organizations for home defence. His appeal was readily responded to, and all the citizens in the borough capable of bearing arms enrolled themselves in some organization. General Couch then made application to the War Department, asking that we might be uniformed and enrolled in the general service, so that,[Pg 57] if we were ever overpowered, we would be treated as prisoners of war and not as guerrillas. This request was denied. He then proceeded to organize a cavalry force, from what was known as the ‘six months’ men,’ for the defence of the border. Many of our citizens enlisted in this force. It was kept on the border until their term of service expired, when they re-enlisted for three years. But their new organization was scarcely completed, before they were taken from this department and sent to the Army of the Potomac. General Couch then proceeded to organize the ‘Provost regiment, for special service in his department.’ This was filled up to 1200 men, and then, as with the rest, taken from him by order of the Secretary of War. These gone, scarce a corporal’s guard was left under his command.

“Two weeks before the advance of Early up the valley, General Couch renewed the request of last year, asking that the citizens might be armed and enrolled; stating, also, that they were ready to attempt their own defence. This was again denied. Then followed the request made by Governor Curtin, and endorsed by General Couch, which is already published in the Governor’s Message. At the time of the invasion of Maryland the whole of the available force in the Department of the Susquehanna did not exceed three hundred men; and during the raid on Chambersburg, General Couch had but one hundred and thirty-five men under his command. Nor is he to blame for the smallness of this number. He had during this month of alarm organized six regiments of one hundred days’ men; but these, as soon as equipped, were ordered to Washington by the Secretary of War. Such are the facts in the case. We make no comments on the[Pg 58] propriety of leaving the border thus defenceless. Its security is perhaps a small matter compared with the strengthening of our armies elsewhere. We only say, General Couch is not to blame. He did everything a brave, earnest and faithful officer could do to avert this calamity.

“Many also are under the impression that this place was disloyal, and consequently they have no sympathy with us in our affliction. Nothing does greater injustice to our suffering community than this. No town of its size in Pennsylvania has fewer “sympathizers” with the rebellion than Chambersburg. Its quotas have always been filled by volunteers, and many of its best citizens have fallen on the field of battle. Such was and such is the spirit of the inhabitants. The affliction into which they have fallen is so great that, were it the result of their own neglect, common charity should teach others to speak of them kindly. But they do not wish to be excused; they only ask to be judged by the facts in the case. The writer has stated such facts as he knows to be true, and subscribes his name to them.

S. J. Niccolls.




My Dear Friend:

A gentleman has just handed me the “Lutheran and Missionary” of Philadelphia, of August 11, in which I find the following excellent article, which, with a few omissions, is here subjoined. It is from the pen of our worthy townsman, Mr. John K. Shryock, who, as well as[Pg 59] his brother, Samuel S. Shryock, have for years carried on a large business in the “Mansion House” as booksellers, and were among the many heavy sufferers by the fire. After alluding to the circumstances attending the advent of the insurgents, he says:

“I was in my house with my wife and two little children, and also a lady whose husband was taken to Richmond last summer, her little boy, and sister. The earliest warning we received was from the stifling smoke that poured through the house, and from some one knocking at the door and crying: ‘If there is any one in this house, for God’s sake leave, for it is all on fire.’ I gathered my family together, and left with nothing but the clothes I had upon my person, two of the ladies not having time even to get their bonnets. Having gotten them out of the house, I ascended the stairs to see if any had been left behind in the haste. After having examined all the rooms, I met two of the infuriated wretches rushing up the stairs as I hurried down. At this time the house was filled with blinding smoke. I locked the front door, hoping that the unwelcome visitors would not be able to find their way out.

“I immediately hurried after my charge, and found them struggling their way through the streets, thronged with homeless women and children, the pavements blocked up by the rebels, who had ridden their horses in every imaginable way to hinder the course of the fugitives. The streets were filled with smoke and flame, and almost impassable. After we had reached a temporary shelter, my wife returned to the scene of destruction, as a bird to its nest, and on her way was stopped before a burning house, in which a corpse was lying, and a little child at[Pg 60] the point of death. The dead woman was gotten out with difficulty, and buried in the garden without shroud or coffin, and the child was barely rescued and placed in her arms, when an officer in front of the house called out to his men: ‘Boys, remember Hunter!’ She ran up to him, uncovered the child, and said: ‘Here is a dying baby we have saved from the house you have fired. Is your revenge sweet?’ Shocked, the fellow burst into tears, and answered, ‘No, madam.’ He followed her some distance, and leaning down, asked her earnestly, ‘Madam, can’t I save something for you?’ Her answer was, ‘No, it is too late: I have lost all!’ Warned to leave the house in which we had taken refuge, a party of us left, but soon became separated, and I lost my little boy, aged about ten, and did not find him till the next day, at Shippensburg, whither he had walked, a distance of eleven miles. The rest of us kept upon the edge of the burning town, and for three or four hours watched the progress of the flames.

“One of the saddest sights I witnessed was the burning of the old Academy. I watched it burn, timber by timber. Fifteen years of associations as scholar and teacher were annihilated in the course of one short hour. My attention was then drawn to the flag-staff in the centre of the public square, and we all, of our party as well as others, expressed an ardent hope that it might stand, from which the American flag might wave, even over the ruins of the town. At noon we returned to the uninjured house of a friend, and spent the night in gazing upon the ruins of our once happy and beautiful town.

“The conduct of the rebel soldiery was barbarous in the extreme, though there were many honorable [Pg 61]exceptions. Bundles were tired upon women’s backs; ladies were forced to carry back into the houses articles of clothing they had saved from the flames; drunken wretches danced upon the furniture and articles of value and ornament; women’s persons were searched in the most indecent manner; oaths and foul language abounded; aged women were locked in their rooms while their houses were on fire; trunks were rifled after being dragged by the owners from the ruins; promises of protection were made to be instantly broken. Everything was done to add to the terror and confusion of the panic-stricken women and children. Soon the hunger of the little ones added new horror to the scene. Families were separated, and distracted fathers and mothers could be seen everywhere, seeking amid the confusion for those that were missing. And yet no selfishness was apparent; every one was willing to aid and sympathize with his neighbor. No one complained, no one lost hope. A rebel officer stopped me, saying: ‘Sir, cannot a little money be raised to satisfy that brute, McCausland; a very little money would save this end of the town.’ My answer was: ‘If ten cents would do it, it would not be forthcoming.’ One rebel came running towards me, wringing his hands, saying, ‘Horrible, horrible! I did not think it could be so bad as this!’ Another told me that they had received orders, before they entered the town, to burn every house in it; and yet another informed me that their object was to effect an entrance during the night, and then burn it. In some cases the women attempted to extinguish the fire, and were prevented by threats and personal violence. Some were thrust from their houses, others were struck, and in some instances pistols were drawn[Pg 62] upon them. One lady had a bucket of water, which she had brought to extinguish the fire, thrown in her face. In almost every case the sick and the infirm were hindered from leaving their homes. There appeared to be a desire to have some burned, if possible, by accident! One rebel, who helped a lady to save some of her clothing, was seen led out of the town handcuffed. An officer who suffered himself to be persuaded to save some property, said, as he left the house he refused to fire, ‘Madam, you have saved your house, but have cost me my commission, and perhaps my life.’ A negro saved his life by dressing himself in woman’s clothes, and carrying on his head a feather bed, thereby hiding his face and hands. Little children cried to ‘go home’—the home that was destroyed; old men wept over the town in which they had lived for three-quarters of a century; citizens looked on with dismay upon the destruction of their life-long labor and industry. Many fled to the cemetery for refuge, and there, in the midst of death, was one little life added to the wretched throng. The words of our Saviour, with regard to the destruction of Jerusalem, were forced upon us: ‘Let him which is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house; neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!’

“The town soon became one mass of smoke and flame, which ascended straight up to heaven, as if to call down the vengeance of God upon the incendiaries. Here and there whirlwinds went up like gigantic corkscrews, carrying paper and clothing high into the air, and miles into the surrounding country, as if to bear witness of the foul[Pg 63] outrage. I saw more than one rebel soldier weeping like a child over the desolation he had made. Hardened as they were to the horrors of war, this was too terrible even for them to bear. One cried out to me in an agony of remorse: ‘Oh, I never enlisted for this!’

“For miles around, the frightened inhabitants fled, they knew not whither; some continuing their flight until they dropped to the ground with exhaustion. Pocket-books and watches were taken by wholesale; bundles, shawls and valises were snatched out of women’s and children’s hands to be thrown away. Cows and dogs and cats were burned to death, and the death-cries of the poor dumb brutes sounded like the groans of human beings. It is a picture that may be misrepresented, but cannot be heightened. One young girl was crying; but, meeting a squad of the marauders she controlled her tears, saying: ‘They shan’t see me cry!’ Full grown men, forgetful of themselves, sobbed over the destitution of those they loved, and self-sacrificing women strove to comfort those of weaker hearts, who had lost no more than themselves. We know of instances where persons had saved money and valuables of others, with which they had, in the excitement, been entrusted, to the exclusion of their own. In the midst of this awful scene, the sympathy and encouragement we had all along received from our loyal friends of a sister State, through the columns of the Tribune, Times and Independent, arose before us like a dense cloud, and, for the time, we hesitated which was most our enemy,—New York or Virginia. Five hundred of the enemy in our streets, two hundred as guard outside, three thousand within supporting distance; this, too, with more than two thousand effective United States cavalry only nine miles[Pg 64] off, for hours. Oh, for one-half of the brave Franklin County boys, that were then far away from their homes, fighting the battles of the Union! We blame no one. Our loyalty, as strong as ever, forbids us; but there is an awful responsibility SOMEWHERE.

“One scoundrel accepted five dollars from a frightened female, to carry her trunk to a place of safety, where he coolly broke it open, and helped himself to the most valuable part of the contents. A little dead child was enclosed in a chest, and buried by the terrified parents in their garden, for fear it would be burned in their house.

“A lady in delicate health was watched by one of the robbers, and allowed to drag her trunk outside of the town; after which he searched it, and appropriated the valuables it contained. She asked, whether that was Southern chivalry, and received for reply: “Take that back, or I’ll blow your brains out.” She did not retract, and did not have her brains blown out. It was sad to see ladies escaping from their houses with nothing but a few photographs or an album.

“In the evening of that dreadful day, it was overpowering to witness the change in circumstances. One of our prominent citizens went with his family to the house of his hostler; another to the residence of his negro servant. On the next day it was a still more sorrowful sight to see refined ladies flock to the church to draw Government rations, and receive articles of second-hand clothing, sent up by the spontaneous charity of persons residing along the line of the Cumberland Valley Railroad. It was hard to eat the bitter bread of charity, but this mortification was borne with the same heroism with which they looked upon the sacking and burning of the dear old town. To[Pg 65] see the grey-haired men and women, the middle-aged, the youthful, and childhood, all represented in the destitute but uncomplaining throng, was one of the most solemn sights the world ever saw. Wyoming and Chambersburg will live in the history of Pennsylvania, and the infamous names of Butler and McCausland, will be handed down to posterity, as the types of savage barbarity.

“At 2 P. M., the Union forces advanced through the town. The citizens cheered the dusty and jaded warriors, but no soldierly huzzas came from their parched and suffocated throats, as they rode through smoke and flame and the intense heat of the smouldering ruins. One repeated exclamation of, ‘My God!’ was all that was heard, and then, as they passed the flag-staff, each one shouted, ‘Remember Chambersburg!’ And so they exclaimed, and so they shouted, as they dashed at a trot through the town. I may live to be an old man, but never, never shall I see such sights again, as I saw that day in the stricken town of Chambersburg.

J. K. Shryock.

Aug. 6, 1864.


[Pg 66]



[Pg 67]


The following is a correct list of the buildings burned by the rebels in Chambersburg, with their estimated value by a committee of disinterested gentlemen appointed for that purpose:

South side of Market Street.
Jacob Wolfkill—Two-story frame and brick building, $700
Patrick Campbell’s heirs—Two-story brick building, 700
Peter McGaffigan—Two-story building, 600
James C. Austin—Two-story brick building, new, 5,000
R. Austin—Two-story brick building, 3,000
William H. McDowell—Two-story stone front and brick back building, brick stable, 3,000
James M. Brown—Two-story stone front and brick back building, stable, 3,300
Jacob Sellers—Two-story brick front and back building, stables, and ice-house, (hotel,) 4,000
J. W. Douglas—One-story frame building, 600
Martin Brown—Frame front and log building, 1,000
J. A. and J. C. Eyster—Log front and back building, 1,000
Mrs. Jordan—Two-story brick front and back building, 5,000
L. S. Clark—Two-story frame building and stable, 1,200
C. M. Duncan—Two-story building, law-office, stable, 2,000
E. Culbertson—Two-story brick building, office, stone barn, 6,000
Mrs. Bard—Two-story brick building, and row of law offices, 6,500
Gehr & Denny—Two three-story brick buildings, and one two-story, (dwellings and “Franklin Repository” office,) 5,500
C. M. Duncan—Three-story building, (Franklin Hotel,) three-story brick arcade, brick stables, &c., 15,000
Aug. Duncan—Three-story brick building, 1,500
[Pg 68]Henry Monks—Three-story brick building, 1,500
Edward Aughinbaugh—Three-story brick building, 1,500
Dr. William H. Boyle—Three-story brick building, 2,000
Mary Gillan—Three-story brick building, 1,500
T. J. Wright—Three-story brick building, 1,800
S. F. Greenawalt—Two-story brick building, stable, 3,000
A. H. McCulloh—Two-story brick building, stone stable, 2,000
Rev. Mr. Nelson—Two-story building, stable, 2,000
J. P. Culbertson—Three brick buildings, 5,000
Mrs. Riddle—Two-story brick building, stable, 3,500
E. Finfrock—Two-story building, stable, 2,000
W. F. Eyster & Bro.—Two buildings, (foundry,) stable, 4,000
R. E. Tolbert—Two-story brick building, stable, 2,000
M. Gillan’s heirs—Two three-story brick buildings, log house, brick stable, 6,000
Alex. Fritz—Two-story brick building, 1,000
Mrs. Frederick Smith—Two-story brick building, 1,200
J. Burkholder’s heirs—Two-story brick building, barn, 2,000
Hunter Robison—Two-story brick building, stable, 1,200
Jacob B. Miller—Two-story brick building, 400
John Bigley—Three small dwellings, 500
Thomas Cook—Three wooden buildings, 600
N. Pierce—Two-story building, 1,000
Barnet Wolff—Two-story frame building, 600
J. M. Wolfkill—Two-story brick front and two back buildings, 2,500
Jacob Shafer—Two-story brick building, 1,000
Richard Woods—Two-story brick building, 800
John King—Two-story buildings, 400
Christ. Pisle—Two-story brick building, 500
Mrs. Elizabeth Stouffer—Two-story brick building, 1,800
A. Banker—Brick shop, house and barn, 2,000
Mrs. Butler—Two-story building and stable, 400
Mary Rapp—Two-story log building, 400
James Nill’s heirs—Two-story brick front, 500
Josiah Allen—Two-story brick building, 1,000
North side of Market Street.
C. Stauth—Two two-story log buildings, $800
Samuel Brant—Two-story brick building, 800
[Pg 69]John M. McDowell—Two two-story brick buildings, (hotel,) barn, shop, etc., 3,500
D. Trostle—Two-story brick building, and brick barn, 1,500
Mrs. Radebaugh—Stone and frame barn, 800
Mrs. Jos. Chambers—Two-story brick building, stable, 5,500
G. W. Brewer—Two-story brick building, barn, 5,500
Mrs. Jacob Smith—Log stable, 100
John Miller—Two-story brick building, hotel, stables, shops, 8,000
J. B. Cook—Two-story stone and four two-story buildings, bark-house, stable, etc., 5,000
C. W. Eyster—Two three-story brick flouring mills and two-story brick dwelling, 15,000
Lambert & Huber—Four-story stone and frame paper-mill and steam-house, 15,000
C. W. Eyster—Two-story brick building, stable, 3,000
S. M. Shillito—Two-story brick building, 1,500
James King—Two-story brick building, frame shop, 1,200
P. Brough—Three-story brick building, 3,000
John Noel—Three-story stone building, stable, 8,000
Court House—Three-story brick, 45,000
Engine-house—Two-story brick, 1,000
D. O. Gehr—Two-story brick building, and brick stable, 5,500
B. F. Nead—Two-story brick building, brick stable, 5,000
A. D. Caufman—Three-story brick building and stable, 4,000
Mrs. Goettman—Two-story brick building, brick stable, etc., 5,500
Peiffer’s heirs—Two-story stone house, (old jail,) smith-shop, frame shop, stable, 2,600
T. B. Kennedy—Large two-story brick building, etc., 8,000
Rev. B. S. Schneck—Two-story stone and brick building, 3,000
L. Humelshine—Two-story building, 600
S. Etter—Two-story brick building, 3,000
Dr. N. Schlosser—Two-story building, 1,000
S. Eckert—Two-story stone and brick building, 1,000
West side Main Street to Square.
Benj. Chambers—Two-story brick building, $5,000
W. G. Reed—Two-story brick building, stable, 5,000
Mrs. C. Snyder—Two-story brick building, 3,000
[Pg 70]Allen Smith—Two-story brick building, stable, 1,600
C. Flack—Two-story building, stable, 1,000
J. Schofield—Two-story building, brick shop, stable, 1,600
M. P. Welsh—Two-story brick building, 2,500
C. Stouffer (machinist)—Two-story brick building, stable, 3,000
Geo. Chambers (residence)—Two-story brick building, stable, 7,000
G. Chambers (Female Seminary)—Three-story stone building, 5,000
G. Chambers—Two-story brick building, law office, &c., 2,000
A. J. Miller—Two-story stone building, &c., 4,500
James Watson—Two-story brick building, 4,500
R. Austin—Two-story brick building, 2,500
East side Main, from Square to King Street.
Franklin Hall—Three-story brick building, $20,000
Jacob Hoke & Co.—Two-story brick building, stable, 5,500
Dr. Langenheim—Two-story brick building, stable, 3,000
Widow Montgomery (hotel)—Three story brick building, stable, 9,000
Daniel Trostle (hotel)—Two-story brick and stone buildings, sheds and stable, 7,000
Miss Susan B. Chambers—Brick shop, house and stable, 2,500
A. P. Frey—Two-story building, coachmaker-shed, shop, stable, 3,000
A. S. Hull—Two-story brick building, 2,000
Mrs. Geo. Goettman—Two-story building, shop, 1,200
West side Main, from Square to Washington Street.
Chambersburg Bank—Two-story brick building, stable, $8,000
Mrs. Gilmore—Two-story brick building and shops, 5,500
Jacob B. Miller—Two-story brick building, etc., 3,000
Dr. Richards—Two-story brick building, stable, 5,500
C. Burkhart—Three-story brick building, ice-house, stable, 4,500
J. M. Cooper—Three-story brick buildings, (“Valley Spirit” office,) stone stable, etc., 15,000
James L. Black—Two-story brick building, stable, 5,000
Dr. J. Hamilton—Three-story brick building and stable, 7,000
John A. Grove—Frame shop, 250
Jacob Hutton—Three-story brick and two brick back buildings, 4,500
John McClintock—Two-story brick building, shop, etc., 3,500
Lewis Shoemaker—Two-story brick building, etc., 4,200
Samuel Greenawalt—Two-story brick buildings, 5,500
[Pg 71]J. Allison Eyster—Two-story brick building, 5,000
J. Allison Eyster—Two-story brick building, 1,500
J. Allison Eyster—Three-story brick buildings, brick stable, 5,000
Wm. Heyser’s heirs—Two story brick buildings, brick stable, 5,500
Rev. S. R. Fisher—Brick stable, 500
Geo. Lehner—Log stable, 400
George Ludwig—Two-story brick front and five back buildings, 7,000
C. F. Miller—Two-story brick building, &c., 4,500
Adam Wolff—Two-story frame and brick building, 1,200
John Forbes—Two-story building, &c., 2,000
John Dittman—Two-story brick building, 2,000
J. Deckelmayer—Two-story brick building and bakery, 3,000
Samuel Ott—Two two-story brick buildings, 4,000
B. Radebaugh—One-story frame shop, 150
Samuel Ott—One-story frame shop, 200
B. Radebaugh—Two-story brick front building, 600
East side Main, from Washington to Square.
F. Spahr—Two-story brick building, $2,500
Miss Hetrick—Two-story brick building, 1,500
John A. Lemaster—Two-story brick building, 2,500
Aug. Reineman—Two-story brick building, 1,500
Samuel M. Perry—Two-story brick front and back building, 2,000
David L. Taylor—Two-story log (weather-boarded) front and frame back buildings, 1,500
J. W. Taylor—Two-story brick building, stable, hay scales, (hotel), 7,000
George Ludwig—Two-story brick building, tin-shop, stable, 4,000
H. H. Hutz—Two-story brick building, stable, 6,500
D. Reisher—Two-and-a-half story brick building, bake-house, stable, 4,500
M. Kuss—Two-story brick building, stone stable, 2,500
I. Hutton—Two-story brick building, brick shop, stable, 4,000
John P. Culbertson—One-story frame shops, 800
Dr. J. Lambert—Two-story brick building, stable, 5,500
Mrs. R. Fisher—Two-story brick front building, 5,000
William Wallace (hotel)—Three-story brick building, 9,000
D. Reisher—Two-story brick buildings, stable, 6,000
[Pg 72]J. A. Eyster (Nixon’s drugstore)—Two-story brick building, &c., 4,500
James Eyster—Two-story brick building, brick stable, 4,500
Eyster & Bro.—Two-story stone and brick building, 5,500
Eyster & Bro.—Three-story brick warehouse, stable, 10,000
Brand & Flack—Two-story stone and brick building, warehouse, 6,500
A. J. White—Two-story stone and brick building, 4,500
Hiram White—Three-story brick front, and back building, (new), 7,500
John Jeffries—Two-story stone and brick building, &c., stable, 3,000
A. B. Hamilton—Two-story stone and brick buildings, stable, 6,000
Mansion House (German Reformed Publication House)—Three-story brick front and back building, livery stable, &c., 10,000
Academy—Large three-story brick, 4,000
Queen—South Side.
J. W. Reges—Two-story brick building, $3,000
W. Cunningham—Two-story brick building and granary, 3,000
John Mull—Two-story brick front and back building, 2,000
J. T. Hoskinson—Two-story brick building, 2,200
Jacob Flinder—Two-story frame building, 800
Jacob Flinder—Two-story frame building, stable, 700
W. Wallace—Two-story brick building, spring-house, &c., 4,000
Mrs. John Lindsay—Two-story brick building, 2,500
Barnard Wolff—Two two-story brick buildings, warehouse, shop, brick stable, &c., 7,500
J. Allison Eyster—Two-story brick building, 2,200
Mrs. Blood—Two-story brick and two back buildings, 1,800
Mrs. Clark—Two-story brick front and back building, 1,800
Mrs. R. Fisher—Two-story brick building, 2,000
Mrs. Sarah Stevenson—Two two-story brick buildings, 2,000
J. D. Grier—Two-story brick building, 4,500
Mrs. Susan Nixon—Two-story brick building, 1,800
Robert Davis—Two-story brick building, 2,000
John Cree—Two-story brick building, 2,500
Samuel Myers—Two-story brick front, two back buildings, 3,200
Mrs. Porter Thompson—Two-story log building, 600
Mrs. George S. Eyster—Two-story brick building, 2,500
Andrew Banker—Two-story log building and smoke-house, 1,500
[Pg 73] 
Queen—North Side.
Huber & Co. (edge-tool factory)—Five brick and frame buildings, $3,500
Brick blacksmith shop, 600
“Bethel” (church)—brick, 3,000
G. Ludwig (brewery)—Two-story stone and brick building, &c., 8,000
Widow Grove (of William)—Two-story building, smoke-house, 1,500
Thos. Carlisle—Two-story brick, and one frame building, 3,000
Kindline’s heirs—Two-story brick, two-story log and brick back buildings, 4,000
Widow Grove (of Alex.)—Two-story building, stable, 1,200
John Huber—Two-story brick building, stable, 3,000
Abraham Huber—Two-story brick, and frame stable, 2,000
H. Sierer—Two-story building, wareroom, stable, &c., 3,000
Thos. Carlisle—Two-story brick front, and back buildings, 2,500
W. Wallace—Three three-story brick buildings, brick stable, 8,000
N. Snyder—Two-story brick building, wash-houses, stable, 2,500
Dr. S. D. Culbertson—Two-and-a-half-story brick building, stable, 4,000
Mrs. Samuel Brand—roof slightly damaged.
J. P. Culbertson—Two-story brick building, stable, 4,500
Second Street.
P. Henry Peiffer—New two-story frame stable, $1,900
Associate Reformed Church—One-story brick building, 3,000
Benjamin Rhodes—Two-story log front and one-story brick back building, 1,200
J. Allison Eyster—One-story log shop, 100
Charles Croft—Log building and frame kitchen, 800
J. P. Keefer—Two-story brick building and kitchen, 1,500
John Reasner—One-story log bakery, 150
J. S. Brown—Roof and upper floor (hotel) 500
John Dœbler—Two-story brick building, 2,000
Holmes Crawford—Two-story brick building, 3,000
S. F. Armstrong—Two-story brick building, stable, 4,000
Aug. Reineman—Three one-story frame shops, &c., 1,000
[Pg 74] 
Martin Cole—Two-story brick and log buildings, $1,500
Philip Evans—Two-story brick building, 1,200
Dr. A. H. Senseny—Two one-story log buildings, $200
N. Uglow—Three one-story log buildings, 250
George Kindline—Brick wagonmaker and blacksmith shop, brick stable, $800
Widow Palmer—Frame stable, $150
Nicholas Gerwig—Frame stable, 100
Henry Greenawalt—Brick stable, 300
George Chambers—Three two-story brick buildings, $2,500
Upton Washabaugh—Two-story building, stone brewery, granary, brick stables, and shed, 8,000
C. Herman—Stone shop, dwelling, and stable, 800
A. K. McClure—House and barn (“Norland”), 9,500
Jacob Eby—Large brick barn, 2,500
Andrew McElwaine—House, 400
The following is the aggregate of buildings burned:
Residences and places of business, $278
Barns and stables, 98
Out-buildings of various kinds, 173
Total buildings burned, 559


The aggregate valuation of the real estate, as made by a committee of upright and disinterested citizens, consisting of Messrs. Wm. McLellan, C. M. Burnet, Rev. Jo[Pg 75]seph Clark, D. K. Wunderlich, and John Armstrong, is $783,950. The loss in personal property greatly exceeds that of the real estate, but it is difficult, if not impossible, even to approach to anything like a satisfactory estimate.

In regard to the foregoing estimates of real property, I will merely add that they are low, generally speaking, very low. I say this, not because I find any fault with the judicious committee of gentlemen who made those estimates. I rather commend them for it; but for the purpose simply of mentioning the fact that the actual loss was much greater than the figures indicate. Thus, for instance, the Court-House is put down at $45,000, whereas an experienced builder has stated to me it could not be rebuilt for less than $80,000. The Mansion House (the printing establishment of the German Reformed Church), with a stone livery stable in the rear, is put down at $10,000, whereas $15,000 would not replace them as they were. Colonel McClure’s large and beautiful residence, with his spacious model barn, are put down at $9,500, but they could not be restored for less than $20,000. The banking house is put down at $8,000, but not less than $20,000 would be required to replace it. And so with most of the buildings. A million dollars will not suffice to restore them, and twice as much more will not cover the losses of such personal property as money can replace.

Many heavy sufferers are among those who had no real property, and hence their names do not appear in the above list. Some of the large business shops were in the front rooms of houses belonging to other persons. Thus the Mansion House, besides containing the printing and[Pg 76] binding establishments of the Reformed Church, was occupied by Shryock’s large bookstore, Mr. Metcalf’s dry goods store, dentists’ rooms, saddler’s shop, &c. In many instances there were two, three, and even four private families living in one house. Many families also, whose dwellings were not burned, were nevertheless very heavy sufferers, having been plundered and robbed of their most valuable articles of plate, jewelry, clothing, &c. Hence it is perhaps not too much to say that the number of families who are sufferers is more than double the number of houses, as well as that the loss is double the amount in value, as compared with the loss of the houses enumerated in the list.

In conclusion permit me to add, that if our border is protected hereafter, and some reasonable assurance is given to our people that incursions by the enemy will be rendered impossible, our town will be rebuilt—gradually, but surely. If, however, no such assurance is given, and no effective aid for border defence is afforded; if our people are coolly told that the Cumberland Valley is to be “a trap in which to catch the rebels, and which must therefore be left open,” then, alas! there will be no heart to remain and rebuild the town; but, imitating many of our disheartened farmers, our citizens will sell out their realty and leave, regretfully indeed; but rather than be in constant dread and apprehension, leave they will, and allow the ruins of their houses and hearths to remain behind them, seeking some more sheltered or sequestered spot, where they may live and die in “quietness and peace,” though it be away from the graves of their fathers and their childhood’s “sweet home.”

Very sincerely yours,
B. S. S.









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“No reader of the Bible can have failed to discover the prominent place occupied by blood-shedding in the Levitical services, and in the grand fundamentals of Christianity. The blood typical was the precursor of the blood shed on the cross. While some of the ‘voices of blood’ considered by the author, may be considered as only remotely bearing on the great subject of atonement, yet they are all designed to illustrate it. The atonement by blood is the marked feature of the gospel, without the shedding of which there could be no remission of sin, and the vitality of the gospel is lost where it does not stand forth prominently. It is the author’s design to illustrate this blessed truth, and he does it Scripturally and practically, that all may see the harmony between the voice of blood from the altar, and the voice of blood from the cross. The volume comprises much precious truth in various respects, and may be profitably read.”—Presbyterian.

“In this work, the author first analyzes the voice, its structure, functions, capabilities, as a material organ of the spirit; then the blood in which is the life; then blood as the voice which utters mighty truths and testimonies; then ‘the voice of accusing blood from the ground,’ beginning with the blood of Abel; the ‘voice of typical blood from the altar’ comprehending the Jewish sacrifices; ‘the voice of atoning blood from the cross;’ ‘the voice of martyr-blood from the church;’ of ‘sacramental blood from the Christian altar;’ of ‘pleading blood from the mercy-seat;’ of ‘witnessing blood from the judgment throne;’ of ‘avenging blood from hell;’ and, finally, of ‘glorifying blood in heaven.’ These topics are treated in a fervid and impassioned style which seldom flags. The reader is never wearied by dulness. Without endorsing every sentiment, we find the work evangelical, earnest, and quickening.”—Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review.


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[1] I take great pleasure in this connection to direct attention to a large photographic view of the Ruins of Chambersburg, by Mr. C. L. Lochman, of Carlisle, as the most satisfactory picture I have yet seen. The same artist has also prepared a number of smaller pictures and a series of stereoscopic views, embracing general views and the most prominent local objects of the town.

[2] Reference is here made chiefly to the New York Herald and the Tribune, both of which sheets have manifested a spirit towards our deeply afflicted sufferers akin to that of our worst enemies. The Tribune, instead of allowing itself to be corrected by the Hon. A. K. McClure, in the Philadelphia Press, turns aside from the subject with miserable jokes, as trivial as they are heartless. And these are our friends!

[3] Since the foregoing was written it has been ascertained to a certainty, that there were three thousand men, exclusive of the eight hundred and thirty-one who were in the town; almost as large a force as that which, one year ago, routed Milroy’s whole military force, cannon and all, at Winchester.

[4] Among the many thousands who have been quartered and encamped here, I have never heard of a single soldier who did not speak in the most grateful terms of the universally kind treatment towards them from our citizens. For proof I appeal to these thousands among the living, wherever they may now be found.

[5] This and several following paragraphs are quoted, with a few slight modifications, from a brief and well-written article by the Rev. Joseph Clark, in the Philadelphia “Presbyterian” of August 6.

[6] McCausland had also insisted upon burning the town in the night, to which Johnson persistently objected. Mrs. Greenawalt, a most worthy and intelligent woman, overheard this consultation of the officers in an adjoining room. The increased horrors which must have resulted if McCausland had not been overruled in his determination, may be imagined. B. S. S.



Transcriber’s Note:

The original text does not contain a Table of Contents. The Table of Contents included near the beginnning of this file was created by the transcriber as an aid for the reader.

The following misprints have been corrected:
"geting" corrected to "getting" (page 20)
"sacrified" corrected to "sacrificed" (page 23)
"guerillas" corrected to "guerrillas" (page 57)

Unmatched quotation marks were left as they were in the original.