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[276] Grant's instruction to Hunter as expressed in a letter about this time were that he should make ‘all the Valley south of the Baltimore and Ohio road a desert, as high up as possible. I do not mean that houses should be burned, but every particle of provisions and stock should be removed, and the people notified to move out.’ When it is remembered that this policy was to be applied to a fertile and populous country some one hundred and fifty by twenty-five miles in extent, we think it has no parallel among civilized nations in modern times. It was never in General Hunter's power to carry out this order, but his acts of brutality that provoked the burning of Chambersburg exceeded even Grant's barbarous order. When Hunter had returned to the lower Valley from the Kanawha he selected the homes of three prominent citizens of Virginia (Messrs. Edmund I. Lee, and Andrew Hunter, and Colonel A. R. Boteler) and sending an officer and party turned out the lady occupants and burned the houses, refusing them permission to save anything from the flames. It is not claimed that these gentlemen had done anything to put themselves beyond the protection of the ordinary usages of war. Two of them, indeed, were not in the military service of the Confederacy and one of these was a kinsman of General Hunter who had in happier years been his host. This act of Hunter's was not in obedience to Grant's instructions, but rather in contravention of them. Yet Mr. Pond would place this burning on the same footing as the accidental or unauthorized destruction of private property (such as the burning of Montgomery Blair's house), by stragglers or drunken soldiers. Great numbers of houses had been shamefully pillaged by Hunter's soldiers in his march through Virginia, and many of them burned, and though such sights naturally exasperated the Confederate soldiers and made it difficult to prevent similar acts on their part, yet it was not for this, nor yet for the destruction of supplies under Grant's order, that Early resorted to the lex talionis. It was for the official act of General Hunter, above described, and for similar deeds that Early ordered a levy to be made upon Chambersburg, and directed that in case of refusal to pay the town should be fired. The necessity for this order may be regretted, the manner in which it was executed may be open to criticism, but it will be difficult to prove that this was not a case that called for retaliation. Mr. Pond thinks the burning of Chambersburg ‘indefensible,’ while he has not a single word to say in adverse criticism of Grant's orders or of Hunter's cruelties!

While McCausland was on the Chambersburg expedition Early made a demonstration across the Potomac to cover the movement

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