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The people of Chambersburg.

And now having given you the feelings and motives which actuated us, permit me to give my views of how your people felt about the affair. I must be frank enough to say that I think the reason the tribute demanded of you was not paid was because you people had no idea that the rebels would carry out their threat to burn; nor was this confidence shaken until the smoke and flames began to ascend. I know that this is directly in the teeth of Mr. Hoke's tribute to the patriotism of his fellow-townsmen, that sooner than pay money to the rebels they saw their homes laid in ashes; but he is himself a little illogical, for he gives greater condemnation to a cruel enemy for burning out a helpless people after they had shown to them that the banks had removed their deposits, and it was impossible for them to get the money demanded. Had your people believed that the town was actually in danger I think they could have raised enough money to have avoided the catastrophe.

Why this confidence of security? It grew out of the position taken by your people during the war; that we were rebels, soon to be conquered; and that whatever cruelties were inflicted upon the homes of these rebels were in the nature of penalties for rebellious conduct; and that such like acts would never dare to be attempted against loyal men. It was further strengthened by the fact that when the whole Rebel Army was in your State, no atrocities were committed. I saw this confidence, almost amounting to contempt, on our march to your town itself, when the negotiations, preliminary to the fire, were in progress. [157] I happened with a comrade or two, to get behind the command on the march to the town, and, in passing through a village of some size (I think it was Mercersburg), the knots of men on the corners poked fun at our appearance, and jeered us, and, never seemed to consider that the men upon whom they expended their fun had pistols and sabres in their belts and might use them. The strange part of the matter to us was to see ablebodied young men out of service—a sight never seen in the South during the war. In Chambersburg itself, it seemed impossible to convince your people that we were in earnest. They treated it as a joke, or thought it was a mere threat to get the money, and showed their sense of security and increduliy in every act.


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Chambersburg, Pa. (Pennsylvania, United States) (2)
Mercersburg (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)

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