I then directed the proclamation to be read to many of the citizens that were near me, and requested them to hunt up their officers, informing them I would wait until they could either find them, or by consultation among themselves determine what they would do. Finally, I informed them that I would wait six hours, and if they would comply with the requisition their town would be safe; and in case they did not it would be destroyed in accordance with my orders from General Early
After a few hours of delay many citizens came to me — some were willing to pay the money, others were not. I urged them to comply with such reasons as occurred to me at the time, and told them plainly what they might expect.
I showed to my own officers the written instructions of General Early
, and before a single house was destroyed both the citizens and the Confederate
officers that were present fully understood why it was done, and by whose orders.
After waiting until the expiration of the six hours, and finding that the proclamation would not be complied with, the destruction of the town was begun by firing the most central blocks first, and after the inhabitants had been removed from them.
Thus the town was destroyed, and the inhabitants driven to the hills and fields adjacent thereto.
No lives were lost by the citizens, and only one soldier was killed, and he was killed after the troops left the vicinity of the place.
About noon the troops were re-formed on the high ground overlooking the town, where the most of them had been posted in the early morning, and the return to the Potomac
was begun shortly afterward.
We encamped at McConnelsburg
that night, and reached the river the next day, at or near Hancock, Maryland
In confirmation of what I have written Major Gilmer
says in his book, “Four years in the saddle,” page 210: “He showed me General Early
, in his “Memoir,” page 51, says: “A written demand was sent to the municipal authorities, and they were informed what would be the result of a failure or refusal to comply with it.”
On page 59 he says: “On the 30th of July, McCausland
, and made the demand as directed, reading to such of the authorities as presented themselves the paper sent by me.”
Colonel W. E. Peters
, who commanded one of the regiments in Johnston
's Brigade, when the burning commenced came and asked me if the burning was being done by my orders.
I showed him the order of General Early
, and he was satisfied, and proceeded to carry out the order as was being done by other regiments of his brigade.
In this expedition the troops passed through more than one hundred miles of hostile territory, executed