--This act is thus explained in a letter from Maryland
to the New York Herald
"Just before leaving Williamsport
, General Early
made some public remarks in regard to the burning of Chambersburg
which are of interest.
He said that he ordered one hundred thousand dollars in gold to be demanded of the town; and that if the demand was not complied with in three hours the town was to be burned; that the sum of money demanded was to reimburse Andrew Hunter
, William Lucas
, E. J. Lee
and Hon. Alexander R. Boteler
for their losses, caused in the destruction of their property by order of General Hunter
, and that he felt perfectly justified in the course he had pursued.
He explained how General Hunter
had burned the house of his (Hunter
's) cousin, in Jefferson county, Virginia
, and taken that cousin (Andrew Hunter
) off as a prisoner, and said that the act was a brutal one, because the inmates of the house were not allowed time to save even a portion of their clothing.
In concluding, he said it would be the future policy of the rebel Government to retaliate in the severest manner for all barbarities practiced against them.--He delivered these remarks in a calm, firm manner.
In a private conversation, he said that no man more than himself deprecated the necessity of such an act as the one committed at Chambersburg
, but that he sanctioned it, believing he was only doing his duty to those people who had suffered by General Hunter
's orders; and again, because he believed that by retaliation such barbarous practices would be sooner discontinued than in any other way. He was particularly severe on General Hunter
, and said that, should he fall a prisoner into their hands, his lot would be a hard one."