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Colonel McClure captured them.

I may incidentally mention that we had orders to arrest and bring Colonel A. K. McClure of the Philadelphia Times, who at that time lived in Chambersburg, within our lines, but his hospitality completely captured those commissioned to do so, and he was never informed of the order.

From the time we left the Potomac until we began to retreat from the burning city, not a gun was fired by our men, except the few shells thrown over the town during its occupancy by us. Several of our men straggled and were killed by citizens or soldiers of the Federal army, who probably were at home. * *

About noon we abandoned Chambersburg and turned our faces toward the Potomac. Just on the outskirts of the city I saw a large bank barn, filled with hay or some very combustible material, on fire, probably the work of some of our soldiers. It was an unwarranted piece of deviltry, as our officers did everything they could to prevent ruch things. The orders of our chief had been obeyed—to bring $100,000 in gold back with us, or burn the town. The latter having been effectually done, fire should have stopped there.

We crossed a small mountain that evening west of Chambersburg, and were not on tire road we came. By noon next day we were at Hancock, Md. A terrific thunder storm was prevailing, and we did not go into the town. We recrossed the Potomac that night at Old Town, following the North Branch, and went into camp about two miles below Moorefield, in Hardy county. The Yankees under Averill had been close after us, and occasionally small brushes would take place between our rear guard and their advance, our object being only to check them until the brigade could get further on.

The many days of weary and exhaustive marching had nearly worn out the men and horses—no sleep or stop for three nights— [321] and the horses were unsaddled and turned out to graze—not dreaming of molestation by the Yankees. But in this we were deceived. They had kept close up to us, and towards morning they captured our outposts by disguising themselves as Confederates and stating they were sent to relieve them.

This left the road open and clear to our camp. Just as daylight began to show itself over the mountain the sleeping camp was aroused by volley after volley in quick succession, and the whistle of thousands of bullets greeted the ear. Averill's 2,500 cavalry were in our camp. As soon as our men understood what was the matter a general fight commenced, the horses stampeded, and a scene of confusion took place not easily described. The Federals had as their warcry, ‘Remember Chambersburg!’

It was a prevalent story in camp that Averill's men were instructed to take no prisoners. We lost 100 men by capture and a large number killed—how many I don't know. I was sleeping near the battery, and had an opportunity to see the awful destruction it did when Averill attempted to force the ford. In five minutes the water was blue with floating corpses.

Lieutenant Alfred Mackey, of Rockbridge, was killed instantly; a brave and good man, who refused to surrender, and was shot through, the ball entering under his armpit. I was more fortunate than many; I rode a horse that could not be turned out to graze, as it was difficult to catch him. I had picketed him, and about five minutes before the attack he woke me up by stepping over me, a habit he had. Noticing that he had consumed all the grass in reach, I thought I would move him where he could get more. While doing this I heard the first shot, and then a number in quick succession. I understood the situation at once. In two minutes men and horses were running in every direction.

After the Yankees had covered about half of the camp, I saw some men running toward Moorefield—a general stampede. With nothing but a halter on my horse and no saddle, I turned in the same direction, and away I went at 2.40 speed, a number of Yankees close behind me, shooting all the time. My route lay up through a cornfield, the high corn at times hiding me from my pursuers. I thought my fate was sealed when I had gone about a half mile and saw a high Jefferson fence directly across my path. But my dear old friend, who had carried me out of many difficulties, seemed to gather new strength, an inspiration born of despair, as he got closer to the obstruction, and when at it, to my surprise and relief, he leaped over 21 [322] like a deer, never touching a rail or slacking his gait, and sped on with the swiftness of the wind until Moorefield was reached.

I glanced back to see what had become of my pursuers, but they never got over the fence. In a few minutes, on the southern side of the town, a number of our command had collected, determined to hold the Yankees in check; but they never came in any force farther than our camp. I lost my saddle and bridle, and a small ham of meat that I had kept as a reserve when nothing else could be had.

This completes the story of the burning of Chambersburg, and is written entirely from personal recollection. Others may have seen it differently, but I have given the truth as I saw it. Nothing, so far as I know, has been written by a Confederate on the subject, and yet it was one of the most daring and reckless undertakings of the war.

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