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[606] Crook, left in command of the depleted force on the Potomac, now moved up to Harper's Ferry, and thence pushed out once more to Winchester, supposing that there was nothing there that could stop his progress.

He was grievously mistaken. Early had not gone south, but was close at hand; and soon our advance was annoyed1 by smart skirmishing, which pushed back our cavalry on our infantry, and next day routed them, driving Crook's entire command pell-mell to Martinsburg with a loss of 1;200, including Gen. Mulligan2 killed. Early's loss was trifling. There was an artillery duel next day at Martinsburg; but Crook, having gained time to save his trains, crossed over into Maryland, leaving Early undisturbed master of the south side of the Potomac from Shepherdstown to Williamsport.

He made an unwise use of his advantage. Maryland and southern Pennsylvania being in utter panic — many running off their stock to places of safety, while thousands openly exulted at the brightened prospects of the Rebellion — he sent B. T. Johnson, McCausland, and others, with perhaps 3,000 cavalry, on a sweeping raid northward. McCausland took a considerable circuit, threatening some points in order to distract attention from others; dispersing a small body of recruits at Carlisle barracks, and finally striking Chambersburg,3 then totally defenseless and in good part deserted, and demanding $100,000 in gold or $500,000 in currency, under penalty of conflagration. The money not being instantly produced, the place was fired, and about two-thirds of it destroyed.

The excuse alleged for this act of Vandalism was The burning of ex-Gov. Letcher's house at Lexington by Hunter, six weeks before. That was held to be justified — and, at all events, was solely incited — by finding in a Lexington printing-office the type and proof of a handbill issued and signed by Letcher, calling on the people of that region to “bushwhack” Hunter's men — that is, fire at them from every covert, )while not embodied as a military force and seeming to be peaceful farmers or artisans. If this burning violated the laws of war, it had already been twice avenged by burning Gov. Bradford's country residence near Baltimore, and ex-P. M. General Blair's, near Washington. It was not in accordance with Lee's orders nor his practice in either of his invasions; for, though he burned Thaddeus Stevens's iron-works near Gettysburg (as we burned manufactories of warlike material, clothing, &c., throughout the South), he sternly forbad wanton devastation; and he was obeyed.

Averill, with 2,600 cavalry, perplexed by the enemy's bewildering demonstrations, had fallen back from Hagerstown to Greencastle, and was but 9 miles from Chambersburg while Johnson and McCausland, with but part of the Rebel cavalry north of the Potomac, sacked and burned that town. He arrived that day but they had left; moving westward to McConnellstown, whither he followed; arriving in time to save it from a similar fate. He promptly charged; but there was not much of a fight; the enemy hurrying southward to Hancock, and thence across the Potomac.

1 July 23.

2 The Col. Mulligan who defended Lexington, Mo., in 1861.

3 July 30.

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