previous next

Tribute or sacrifice.

When the men had arrived at the objective point, the citizens and City Council were summoned before General McCausland, and Adjutant-General Fitzhugh read them the order of General Early, levying a tribute of $100,000 in gold or $500,000 in United States currency, for the burning of property by the Federal army in Virginia. This little pamphlet I mentioned above, written by Rev. Dr. Schenck, has this to say on this point:

Captain Fitzhugh exhibited to J. W. Douglas, Esq., an attorney of this place, a written order, with the name of Jubal Early to it, directing that Chambersburg should be burned in retaliation for the burning of six houses in Virginia by Hunter. The burning of Chambersburg was then ordered by one of the corps commanders of General Lee's army, instead of a guerilla chief, thus placing the responsibility squarely upon the shoulders of General Lee. We have, in support of this, the statement of Rev. Mr. Edwards, Episcopal clergyman of Hagerstown, who was taken as a hostage after Chambersburg had been destroyed. He was brought to General Early's headquarters at Williamsport, and there paroled to effect his exchange. General Early there informed him that he had directed Chambersburg to be burned in retaliation for the destruction of property in Virginia by Grant, Meade and Hunter, and that the account was now square.’

They seemed to think we were jesting and bluffing. They asked for time to consider, which was understood by our men to gain time so that Averil and Couch could reach there. An hour was granted, at the expiration of which they (the citizens and Council) announced that that amount of money was not in the town, and they would not pay it if they could. A detail was at once made and ordered to fire the town, and in one hour the business portion of the beautiful city was blackened, smoking ruins. The main part of the town was enveloped in flames in ten minutes. No notice was given, except that if the terms of the order were not complied with, destruction would be the result. This little book or pamphlet, which I have quoted from before, says: [319]

‘No time was given to remove women or children, the sick nor the dead, but the work of destruction was at once commenced. They divided into squads and fired every other house, and often every house, if there was any prospect of plunder. They would beat in the door with iron bars or heavy planks, smash up furniture with an axe, throw oil or fluid upon it, and ply the match. They almost invariably entered every room of each house, rifled the drawers of the bureau, appropriate money, jewelry, watches and any other valuables, and would often present pistols to the heads of inmates and demand money or their lives. Few houses escaped rifling—nearly all were plundered of everything that could be carried away. Many families had the utmost difficulty to get out themselves in time. Several invalids had to be carried out as the red flames licked their couches.’

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Chambersburg, Pa. (Pennsylvania, United States) (4)
United States (United States) (1)
Hagerstown (Maryland, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: