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A Northern explanation.

From a little pamphlet published a few months after the burning, written by Rev. B. S. Schenck, D. D., I quote this paragraph in explanation:

General Averill possibly might have saved Chambersburg, and I know General Couch exhausted himself to get Averill to fall back from Greencastle to this point. I do not say that General Averill is is to blame, for he was under orders from General Hunter, and not subject to General Couch. He had a large force of the enemy in his front, and until it is clearly proved to the contrary I must believe he did his whole duty. The enemy under McCausland, Bradley Johnson, and Gilmer, let it be recollected, had at least 3,000 cavalry, with artillery at command, 800 being in town, the rest within supporting distance. Johnson's command occupied the high eminence one mile west of the town with a battery. No better position could have been desired. They were flushed at the prospect of plunder and pillage; their horses were fresh and sleek; their men resolute and defiant. On the other hand, Averill and his men had been worn out and jaded by long and heavy marches in Western Virginin for a number of consecutive weeks. Their horses were run down, and many of them ready to die, so that 280 of them could not be taken any farther, but were left here to recruit. It is, therefore, only possible, scarcely probable, that, even if Averill's force of 2,500 men had been here, a successful resistance could have been made under these circumstances. But Averil and his men were not here until several hours after the work of destruction was accomplished, and the enemy, gloating over his vengeful deeds, was miles away on the Western turnpike towards McConnellsburg.’

I cannot explain why these troops did not intercept us, except upon the ground that we would whip them if they gave us a chance. Averill's men were good soldiers, and in the many encounters we had with them they proved a match for us, and the reasons stated in [317] the above paragraph may possibly explain why, but this pamphlet is so full of glaring falsehoods that upon general grounds I believe nothing in it. Chambersburg had been raided twice before McCausland went therein 1864—once by General ‘JebStuart in 1862, and in 1863 by a portion of General Lee's army, just prior to the battle at Gettysburg. The farmers of Franklin and Adams counties had been kept in a state of suspense and uneasiness by McCausland's cavalry, which had made several incursions into that section with remarkable results. For several weeks previous to the raid to Chambersburg, it had been reported that we had crossed the Potomac, and were steering up the Cumberland Valley, all which being untrue, the farmers afterwards treated these reports with indifference, apathy seized them, and when we did go we found everybody at home with stock, &c.

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