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Doc. 93. the burning of Chambersburg.

Chambersburg, August 24, 1864.
The defeat of Crook and Averell near Winchester, when pursuing the retreating rebels, was the first intimation given the border of another invasion; and even then little danger was apprehended, as Hunter's army was known to have been brought to Martinsburg, and rested and reorganized, and the Sixth and Nineteenth corps were also known to be on the line of the Potomac. On Wednesday the twenty-seventh ultimo, it was known at headquarters here that our entire force was north of the [538] Potomac, and the line from Hancock to Harper's ferry was well picketed. General Couch had no troops — not even an organized battalion on the border. He had organized six or seven regiments of one hundred days men; but as fast as they were officered and armed they were forwarded to Washington, in obedience to orders from the authorities. He was left, therefore, with no force whatever to defend the border. The national authorities had persistently refused to uniform the citizens of the border, and thus enable them to organize for their own defence, without exposing themselves to certain butchery in case of capture, and the border was thus entirely defenceless. General Averell was still between us and the enemy, and it was hoped that in case of an advance, he could, with the aid of citizens, successfully defend Chambersburg, which was known to be a place in which McCausland longed to glut his infernal vengeance. Hunter was compelled to manuoevre so as to prevent Early from getting between him and Washington, and therefore, could not devote his attention to defence against raids. Had Early drawn him up the Potomac and then hastily moved upon Washington, it would have been defenseless, and must have fallen.

On Thursday the twenty-eighth ultimo, the rebels recrossed the Potomac at three different points — McCausland, Johnston, and Gilmore, with three thousand mounted men and two batteries, below Hancock, and moved toward Mercersburg. They reached Mercersburg at six P. M., where they met Lieutenant McLean, a most gallant young officer in the regular service, with about twenty men. His entire command numbered forty-five, and he had to detach for scouting and picket duty more than half his force. So suddenly did they dash into Mercersburg that they cut the telegraph wire before their movement could be telegraphed, and it was not until ten o'clock that night that Lieutenant McLean got a courier through to General Couch with the information. In the meantime, two other columns crossed the same morning, Generals Vaughn and Jackson, with over three thousand mounted men, at Williamsport, and moved toward Hagerstown. General Averell fell back to Greencastle during the day, and a small column of the enemy advanced five miles this side of Hagerstown, where they encamped that night. Another column crossed at Shepherdstown the same morning and appeared near Leitersburg, on General Averell's left, in the course of the evening, but advanced no further. General Averell was thus threatened in front and on both flanks by three columns, each larger than his own; was isolated from Hunter, his chief officer, and his whole reserve in case he fell back upon Chambersburg, was General Couch and staff, Lieutenant McLean's little command of less than fifty men, some sixty infantry, and a section of artillery. It must be remembered too, that his command was utterly exhausted; having been on duty almost day and night for a week, and previously broken down by the movement of General Hunter upon Lynchburg and his retreat to Charleston. While it seems clear that General Averell could have saved Chambersburg had he fallen back to this point instead of halting at Greencastle, we are unwilling to censure him, or to hold him responsible for the sad record that McCausland has given to the history of our town. If but one column had threatened him, or had reinforcements been in his rear, he would doubtless have met every expectation of our people. He is a brave and gallant officer — has well earned his fame, and it should not be hastily tarnished.

General Couch, as we have stated, had no troops either here, or within reach of this point, with which to oppose the rebel advance. A few companies of infantry, but half-organized one hundred days men, were thrown forward from Harrisburg to Averell on the morning before the Mercersburg movement was known, and they remained there under his orders. All the troops General Couch had were on picket duty, or with Lieutenant McLean, who gallantly embarrassed McCausland's advance at every step. He had not even a guard to spare to arrest the stream of stragglers and deserters from Hunter's army — chiefly one hundred days men. Scores of them passed through, mostly without arms, and had they been arrested they would probably have been valueless.

General Averell was under orders from General Hunter, and not subject to the order of General Couch. He was advised by General Couch by telegraph of the rebel occupation of Mercersburg, and the movement toward this point, which turned Averell's right flank and rear, and urged to fall back if possible and cover this point and save his flanks; but for reasons, which we believe will yet be satisfactorily explained, General Averell did not move from Greencastle until morning, and then he made a circuit by Mount Hope, doubtless to protect his left and save his command from a combined attack by the several columns which had advanced from the river. His trains were sent here about six P. M., with a strong guard, and squads of disabled and demoralized men; but they were moved toward Shippensburg at one A. M. on Friday morning, and the guard, of course, went with them. General Averell did not reach here until about three P. M. on Saturday--nearly five hours after the rebels had burned the town and retreated westward.

General Couch was troopless, and therefore helpless as a commander. His failure to secure the aid of General Averell, and the steady advance of the rebels, made it evident that he could not hold the town, even if every citizen in it had fought resolutely by his side; and as the sequel shows, he apprehended that an unsuccessful resistance, in which citizens were engaged, against a fiendish foe like McCausland, would but swell the measure of rebel vengeance. Lieutenant McLean was driven to the western turnpike at St. Thomas by one A. M. on Friday morning, and resolved to retard the advance of [539] the enemy as long as possible, to enable the stores and trains to be sent off. All the government stores, railroad trains, &c., were ordered to be ready for immediate removal and they were all saved — the last train leaving the depot when the rebels were on the hill west of town. At three A. M. Lieutenant McLean reported that he had been driven into the town at the western toll-gate, and urged the immediate movement of the trains. As the stores were not yet all ready for shipment, Major Maneely, of Genaral Couch's staff, took one gun, with a squad of men, and planted it on the hill a short distance west of the fair ground. As it was yet dark, his force could not be reconnoitred by the enemy, and when he opened on them they halted until daylight enabled them to see that they had no adequate force to oppose them. By this gallant exploit the rebels were delayed outside of the town until the stores were all saved, and General Couch left the depot as the rebels entered the western part of the town. Lieutenant McLean, and his command, and Major Maneely, being well mounted, escaped before the rebels got into the main part of the town. Major Maneely killed one rebel and wounded five by the first fire of his gun.

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 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 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 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 six A. M. 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 south-west; and finding the way clear, their cavalry, to the number of about four hundred and fifty, came in, under the immediate command of General McCausland. General Bradley Johnston was with him, and also the notorious Major Harry Gilmore.

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, silver-ware, 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 would have done credit to the free-booting accomplishments of an Italian brigand.

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, was 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. No committee was appointed, and no individuals attempted to deal with the arch-fiend who had come at once to rob and destroy. 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. No sort of effort was made either by individuals singly or in organized capacities to make terms — all had resolved that the freebooter should fulfil his threat rather than pay tribute. 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, Doctor 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 he would take them to Richmond as hostages, and also burn every house in [540] 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.

The main part of the town was enveloped in flames in ten minutes. No time was given to remove women or children, or sick, or even the dead. No notice of the kind was communicated to any one; but like infuriated fiends from hell itself the work of destruction was commenced. They did not have anything to learn in their horrid trade — they proved themselves experts in their calling. They divided into squads, and fired every other house, and often every house, if they presented any prospect of plunder. They would beat in the door with iron bars or heavy plank, smash up any 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 learned of a number of persons, mostly widows, who paid them sums from twenty-five to two hundred dollars, we know of but one case where the property was saved thereby. Mr. James Kennedy, near town, saved his buildings by the payment of two hundred dollars. The main object of the men seemed to be plunder. Not a house escaped rifling — all were plundered of everything that could be carried away. In most case houses were entered in the rudest manner, and no time whatever allowed even 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 help-less 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 threatened their couches. Thus the work 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 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. So thoroughly were all of them master of the trade of desolation that there is scarcely a house standing in Chambersburg to-day that they attempted to burn, although their stay did not exceed two hours. In that brief period, 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 village, 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. The Government may not take summary vengeance, although it has abundant power to do so; but there is One whose voice is most terrible in wrath, who has declared, “Vengeance is mine — I will repay!”

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. Mrs. Conner, the widow of a Union soldier, who has no means of support, got on her knees and begged to save her and her little ones from the fury of rebel wrath; but while she was thus pleading for mercy, they fired her little home, and stole ten dollars from her — the only money she had in the world. Mr. 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 laughed at his terror, and fired the building. Through the extraordinary efforts of some friends, he was carried away safely. Mrs. Lindsey, a very feeble lady of nearly eighty, fainted when they fired her house, and was left by the fiends to be devoured in the flames; but fortunately a relative reached the house in time, and lifting her in a buggy in the stable, 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 was there with Mrs. Kuss's dying babe in her arms, and plead for the sake of the dead mother and dying 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. The next day it was taken up and interred in the Catholic graveyard. When the flames drove Mrs. Shryock out with the child, she went to one of the men, and presenting the dying babe, asked--“Is this revenge sweet?” A tender chord was touched, and without speaking, he burst into tears. He afterward followed Mrs. Shryock, and asked whether he could do anything for her; but it was then too late. The [541] babe has ceased to be motherless, for it shares a mother's sepulchre. The houses of Messrs. McLellan, Sharpe, and Nixon, were saved miraculously. They are located east of the railroad, and out of the business part of the town. They 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, but ordered his command away, and that part of the town was saved. Mrs. Louis Shoemaker rushed up stairs, when they fired her house, to save some valuables, and returned with some silver spoons in her hand. She found the rebels quarreling over a valuable breast-pin of hers — several claiming it by right of discovery, and the dispute was ended, for the time at least, by one rudely taking the spoons from Mrs. Shoemaker and dividing them among the squad. Mrs. Denig escaped by wetting blankets and throwing them around her, thus enabling her to get out through the burning building in the rear of her house. The residence of Mr. McElwaine was burned by a squad of rebels, who first demanded and procured their breakfast from him, because he was guilty of teaching colored children, and he was fired at as he made his escape. S. M. Royston, bar-keeper at Montgomery's Hotel, was robbed on his way down stairs of seven hundred dollars--all the savings of his life. He was met by a squad of rebels, and dexterously relieved of his money and all valuables. Mr. Holmes Crawford was taken into an alley while his house was burning, and his pockets rifled. All he had about him was one dollar and sixty cents, and that was appropriated. 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 burned around him. Father McCnulloen, Catholic priest of this place, was robbed of his watch. He was sitting on his porch, and a party of rebels came up and peremptorily demanded his watch, which he delivered. He was also robbed of his watch last year by Jenkins' men — the same command that burned Chambersburg. Colonel Stumbaugh was arrested near his home early in the morning, and with 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 afterward 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. Colonel Boyd's residence--“Federal Hill,” --was also put under guard, when Mrs. Boyd informed them who lived there. They had some recollections of Colonel Boyd occasionally penetrating the Shenandoah Valley, and it was not deemed wholesome to burn his property. Mr. John Treher, of Loudon, was robbed by the rebels of two hundred dollars in gold and silver, and one hundred dollars in currency. The money was in a bureau drawer, but it was most dexterously appropriated by the scienced light-fingered gentry of McCausland. They also stole all his liquors. 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 rebel soldiers were intoxicated, and they feared the worst consequences.

Soon after the work of destruction had commenced, a squad was detailed to burn “Norland,” the residence of A. K. McClure. It is situated a mile from the centre of the town, and no other building was fired within half a mile of it, although fifty houses stand between it and the burnt portion of Chambersburg. The squad was commanded by Captain Smith, son of Governor Smith (Extra Billy), of Virginia, whose beautiful residence near Warrenton has ever been carefully guarded by Union troops when within our lines. The mother and sisters of the officer who fired “Norland” had lived in peace and safety in their home, under Federal guards, since the war commenced. With the cry of “retaliation,” Captain Smith proceeded to Mr. McClure's residence. Passing the beautiful mansion of Mr. Eyster, he supposed he had reached the object of his vengeance, and he alighted and met Mr. Eyster at the door. “Colonel McClure, I presume,” said the chivalrous son of Virginia. “No, sir; my name is Eyster,” was the reply. “Where is McClure's house?” was the next interrogatory. As the property was evidently doomed, and in sight, Mr. Eyster could only answer that it was further on the road, and the noble warrior passed on. He found Mrs. McClure quite ill — having been confined to her bed for ten days previous. He informed her that the house must be burned by way of retaliation — for what particular wrong, he did not seem anxious to explain. He magnanimously stated that she should have ten minutes to get the family out of the house and [542] away; and to prove his sincerity, he at once fired the house on each story. To convince Mrs. McClure that he was a chivalrous foe, he ordered her to open her secretary while the house was in flames around her, and, evidently ambitious to show his literary taste and acquirements, he commenced to read her private letters. Mrs. McClure informed him that he would doubtless be disappointed in her assortment of literature, as her husband had no papers or letters in the house; but as he seemed desirous to read something, she would commend to him a letter she had just received the day before from a rebel prisoner, invoking the blessing of Heaven upon her and hers for kind ministrations to a foe. The writer had been here with Lee, in June, 1863, and was on guard at the house, and was of course treated kindly. The sick of the same command, as well as those of McCausland's forces — then under Jenkins — were all humanely cared for, by Mrs. McClure ; and the author of the letter, having since been captured, and suffering from sickness and destitution, wrote her some time before stating his condition. That she had not turned a deaf ear even to a foe when suffering, is evidenced by the acknowledgment presented to Captain Smith, which was as follows:

prisoners' camp, Point Lookout, Md., July 20, 1864.
Mrs. M. S. McClure:
Madam — It is with feelings of intense gratitude I acknowledge the receipt of your letter under date of twenty-first of June, enclosing-----dollars. Words are inadequate to express my gratitude for so kind, so benevolent and unexpected a favor. I can only simply say — many thanks, and may God bless you. I have a mother and sisters; and your letter I shall retain and convey to them in order that they may see the Christian kindness of one who is against us, and urge that they may emulate your example, and never be backward when an opportunity is offered in giving aid to a needy Federal soldier.

As it may never be in my power to reciprocate the favor received at your hands, my prayer is that God may reward you for it. * * * With best wishes for your health and happiness, and trusting that this dark war cloud may soon be dispelled, and peace and happiness and prosperity once more smile upon us,

I am, madam, with much respect,

Your obedient servant,

James B. Stamp, Company C, Ninth Division.

Such a letter was not just the entertainment to which the imperious son of the South considered himself invited. Instead of retaliating for wrongs done, he found himself about to apply the torch where friend and foe had found solace in distress — even his own men having been mercifully ministered to there by the one over whose aching head and enfeebled limbs he was inviting the fury of the flames. He read the letter, and answered--“This is awful — it is awful to burn this house!” and in vindication of his contrition, he left Mrs. McClure to escape from the fire, while he proceeded to the adjoining room and, in a fit of remorse, stole Mr. McClure's gold watch and other articles of value which might adorn the elegant mansion of the Governor of Virginia at Warrenton. Fortunately Mrs. McClure had some of her own clothing in a trunk, and one of the squad kindly aided her in getting it out of the house, and it was saved, but nothing belonging to Mr. McClure was allowed to be removed. Rev. Mrs. Niccolls, who had rushed to the house, was caught on the stairs with a coat on her arms, and it was rudely taken from her, with the remark, “Saving anything belonging to him is expressly forbidden.” In five minutes the house was enveloped in flames, and Mrs. McClure, and the other members of the family at home, started on foot, in the heat of the day, to escape the vengeance of the chivalry. The torch was thrust into the large, well-filled barn, and in half an hour a few charred walls was all that remained of “Norland.” Captain Smith could conceal the watch and other articles he purloined at “Norland” as trophies of his valor, but the silver pitcher was 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 Rev. Mr. Kennedy's, and handed the pitcher to his wife, with the request--“Please deliver this to Mrs. Colonel McClure, with the compliments of Captain Smith.” The goblets were strapped to the saddle of one of his squad, and the watch could be pocketed to prevent the tell-tale qualities of the pitcher, and they were borne off to the land of heroic warriors and noble blood. The watch stolen by Captain Smith was presented to Mr. McClure by some friends as a testimonial for his services as Chairman of the State Committee in 1860; bears an engraving to that effect, and is worth five hundred dollars.

The following card explains itself fully:

To the Editor of the New York Times:
Your correspondent writing from the southern border of Pennsylvania, says in the Times of the fourth instant:

I was informed by a gentleman on the train that Colonel McClure paid five thousand dollars as a ransom for his threatened property, and after all the scoundrels set the torch to his house, and it now stands a smoking ruin.

The foregoing statement has not the shadow of truth. I paid no sum of money to ransom my property, nor did any one for me; and although my loss is scarcely less than fifty thousand dollars, not one dollar of tribute would have been paid to barbarous freebooters to save it. I was not present, but no member of my family would have entertained a proposition of any kind to ransom anything belonging to them or me.

A. K. McClure. Chambersburg, Friday, August 5, 1864.


Captain Smith, the worthy son of a noble Virginia sire, now Governor of what treason has left of the Old Dominion, gave his name and parentage at “Norland,” and also at Rev. James F. Kennedy's. It seems that the residences of ministers were not to be burned, and he gave the following order to Mr. Kennedy.

Chambersburg, July 30, 1864.
Rev. James F. Kennedy's house is not to be burned, positively prohibited. By order of Brigadier-General McCausland.

F. W. Smith, A. A. D. C.

The order was hastily written with lead pencil, but in a very legible hand, while he was delivering Mrs. McClure's pitcher to Mrs. Kennedy, and declaring by way of justification of his conduct, that his father's house had been burned by our troops, a statement he knew to be false.

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 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, 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 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 humunity. One whole company was kept by its Captain — name unknown — from burning and pillaging, and the south-eastern portion of Chambersburg stands today solely because an officer detailed there kept his men employed in aiding people out of their burning houses, and did not apply the torch at all. After the rebels had left, the following note was received by Rev. S. J. Nicolls, Presbyterian pastor, written on an envelope with a pencil:

Rev. Mr. Nicolls: 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.

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. Many, however, did openly disobey, and went even so far as to give the ut-most publicity to their disobedience.

Captain Fitzhugh exhibited to J. W. Douglas, Esquire, 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 order of 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.

A number of the thieves who participated in burning Chambersburg, were sent suddenly to their last account. An officer whose papers identify him as Major Bowen, Eighth Virginia cavalry, was conspicuous for his brutality and robberies. He got too far south of the firing parties to be covered by them, and in his desire to glut his thieving propensities, he was isolated. He was captured by several citizens, in the midst of his brutal work, and was despatched 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 aided the boldest robbery to atrocious arson. He was shot dead and now sleeps near the Falling Spring, nearly opposite the Depot. He was about five feet five inches in height, very stoutly built, with sandy hair, goatee and [544] moustache, sandy complexion, full face, and from thirty-five to forty years of age.

Two men entered the drug store of Mr. Miller, and in their haste and confusion got the front door locked, and could not escape speedily after they had fired the store. Mr. Miller was standing in the hall of his house, which communicates with the store, and with his double-barrelled shot gun he brought both down to find sepulchres in the ashes of his house. We do not learn that they blessed the name of McCausland as their bronzed skin blistered and withered beneath the flames he had ordered. Mr. Thomas H. Doyle, of Loudon, who had served in Easton's battery, followed the retreating rebels toward Loudon, to capture stragglers. When beyond St Thomas he caught Captain Cochran, Quartermaster of Eleventh 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 whining thief dead, and found on his person eight hundred and fifteen dollars of greenbacks, all stolen from our citizens, and one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars of rebel currency. His sword, belt and pistols were brought to this place by Mr. Doyle. He did not lisp the name of McCausland with reverence or pride as he begged to be spared the just doom his deeds merited. Scores of McCausland's command were killed on the retreat by General Averell's forces. Many of them were intoxicated, and all demoralized by plunder, and they became an easy prey to the vengeance of our troops who passed through the burning town in the pursuit of the barbarians.

The fiends in human shape who passed to their final account in the midst of their own infernal work, did not reach the Great Judge without an accuser. Daniel Parker, once a “thing,” a “chattel,” a “slave,” in the parlance and by the laws of the superior race who teach nobility and chivalry by making the widow and fatherless homeless and penniless, was the only victim unto death of rebel brutality. He had seen the North star in his earlier days, and although untutored, in obedience to the statutes which enslaved him, he followed the beacon light of heaven to freedom. He had lived quietly, soberly and industriously in our midst until he had filled the measure of patriarchal years, respected by all who knew him. He was enfeebled by age and infirmities, and his humble home excited the vengeance of the lordly sons of the South. They fired his house, and he was so injured by the flames before he could escape that he died the same night, and his spirit, cleansed of the stain of color and caste as stamped by man, passed with his murderers, who found resting-places amidst the ashes of their own desolation, to the bar of Him who judges only in righteousness. Despite the wicked war they have thrown like a pall over a great and free people on the pretext of equality of races, they found a tribunal from which there is no appeal, where chattel and master, slave and lord, meet equal justice, and equal mercy. Murderers and accuser bid a final farewell to the same waning sun, and thenceforth forever became equals!

A correspondent sends the following as to the nativity of the vandal chief McCausland: Frequent inquiries are daily made regarding the nativity of the fiend McCausland. Some allege that he was born in New York State, while others think that he must certainly have first seen the light in the South. The matter seems to be important inasmuch as the individual will have a very prominent and interesting page in the history of the rebellion; but he has settled the question himself, and removed cause for further dispute. In a conversation with Rev. Mr. Edwards, of Hagerstown, McCausland said he he was from hell. For a verification of his statement witness Chambersburg in ruins.

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