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
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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