The burning of Chambersburg. From Pennsylvania-German, July, 1909.note.—This article, published in the Baltimore American, March 28, 1909, and written by Lieut. Fielder C. Slingluff, who was a member of the First Maryland Cavalry, C. S. A., and is now a prominent lawyer, citizen, clubman and churchman of Baltimore, Md., was sent for publication by Captain Frederick M. Colston, of the same place. The letter, beside the following: ‘As an act of simple justice and for historical accuracy, I ask you to publish this, as an addenda to the Rev. Dr. Seibert's account of the burning of Chambersburg,’ contained a clipping from the Baltimore Sun of April 26, 1909, as follows:
Sheridan, like Sherman, indulged his proclivities for pillage and destruction only after the last vestige of Confederate military organization had vanished from his front, and it was on a people incapable of armed resistance that vengeance was wreaked. Some idea of the pitiless and wanton devastation wrought in the valley may be gathered from the report of a committee appointed just after the close of the hostilities by the county court of Rockingham to estimate the havoc inflicted on the property of noncombatants under Sheridan's orders in that county alone:Dwellings burned, 36; barns burned, 450; mills burned, 31; fences destroyed (miles), 100; bushels of wheat destroyed, 100,000; bushels of corn destroyed, 50,000; tons of hay destroyed, 6,233; cattle carried off, 1,750 head; horses and hogs carried off, 3,350 head; factories burned, 3; furnace burned, I. In addition, there was an immense amount of farming utensils of every description destroyed, many of them of great value, such as reapers and threshing machines, also household and kitchen furniture, and money, bonds, plate, etc., pillaged.We are glad to print this article written 25 years ago, supplementary to Dr. Seibert's vivid description written 50 years ago. The two papers give us opposite aspects of the same events and have for this reason unusual historical value.
Mr. Slingluffs letter.An interesting contribution to the literature of the Civil War is an account of the burning of Chambersburg written by Mr. Fielder C. Slingluff, of the law firm of Slingluff & Slingluff, Baltimore. He was present at the destruction of the town as a member of the First Maryland Cavalry, and his account is, accordingly, from the standpoint of a Confederate soldier. For 25 years Mr. Slingluff's narrative has been tucked away in archives, which gives it added historic interest. The account of the event is in the form of a letter to Mr. Ephraim Hiteshew, of Chambersburg, Pa., who prevailed upon Mr. Slingluff to write it in connection with some reminiscences compiled by Mr. Hoke, of Chambersburg. The letter telling of the destruction which Mr. Singluff has permitted to be published, is as follows:
Mr. Hoke's reminiscences of the burning of Chambersburg, and have carefully read them. At your request I will give you my recollection of the events which immediately preceded and followed that occurrence. I write from the standpoint of the private soldier, having had no knowledge of the reasons which dictated official orders at the time, nor had my associates. We simply obeyed orders. I do not pretend to give dates, distances, names of places, of persons or localities with precision. Twenty years is a long span in a man's life, and as I passed through many stirring events during the war this one did not make as great an impression upon me as it did upon those who immediately suffered from it. I believe, though, that that 20 years has so curbed and tempered the excitement of early manhood and mollified the passions and resentments of war that I can write calmly and without bias on the subject. At least such will be my endeavor. At the same time I shall not hesitate to speak frankly and freely from my standpoint. To do less would render valueless, for the purpose of impartial history, anything which I might say.