Unwritten history. [from the Richmond, Va., Dispatch, February 5, 1899.1
A Southern account of the burning of Chambersburg.Northern stories Contradicted—a Virginia cavalryman tells the tale of the memorable Raid—it was bad enough, but not as bad as Pictured.
The burning of Chambersburg, Pa., July 30, 1864, by General John McCausland's Confederate cavalry was a unique incident of the civil war, as it was the first time the Confederates had applied the torch in retaliation for similar offences committed by the Federal army. It created consternation and indignation throughout the entire North. They had forgotten that Colonel Montgomery, of the Federal army, committed such gross outrages on private citizens in South Carolina, on raids made into the State—acts so atrocious and unwarranted that he was summarily dismissed from the army; Kilpatrick and Sheridan were barn-burners and mill-burners by instinct, or orders; Jackson, Miss., was partially destroyed; one-third of Alexandria, Va., was burned, and Jacksonville, Fla., nearly all destroyed by fire from the torch of Federal soldiers, yet when we asked them to take a little of their medicine we became incendiaries and freebooters. Chambersburg is in Franklin county, Pa., about fifty or sixty miles from the Potomac. It was a substantial, well-built, and beautifully  laid-out town of some 6,000 or 8,000 people. These people had for some time been without any military protection, but at the time we were there General Couch was encamped at Mercersburg, sixteen miles distant, with a battery and a force of men, and General Averill was encamped at Greencastle, ten miles distant, with 2,500 cavalry. Why did they permit us to burn Chambersburg? This is a question that has never been solved. They had three men to our one, as our force, all told, did not exceed 1,000 men.