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
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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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