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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/277

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The Burning of Chambersburg, Pa. 269

the dash into Pennsylvania, by turning the right of Hunter's army, were assembled at Hammond's Hill, in Berkeley county, W. Va. During the night the Federal pickets on the opposite side of the river were captured, and our troops crossed just as daylight appeared on the morning of the 3Oth, and moved out and formed the line of march on the National road. Major Harry Gilmor drove the Fed- eral cavalry from the small village of Clear Spring, and pushed on toward Hagerstown to create the impression that the rest of the troops were following. At Clear Spring we left the National road and turned into the Mercersburg road to the north. We reached Mercersburg about dark, and stopped to feed our horses and give the stragglers time to catch up. After this stop the march was con- tinued all night, notwithstanding the opposition made at every avail- able point by a regiment of Federal cavalry. Major Sweeney, with his cavalry battalion, kept the roads clear, and we reached Cham- bersburg at daylight on the 3ist. The approach to the town was defended only by one piece of artillery and some irregular troops, who were soon driven off, and the advance of our force took pos- session of the town. The main part of our two brigades was formed into line on the high ground overlooking the town.

I at once went into the city with my staff and requested some of the citizens to inform the city authorities that I wanted to see them. I also sent my staff through the town to locate the proper officials and inform them that I had a proclamation for their consideration. Not one could be found. I then directed the proclamation to be read to as many citizens as were near me, and asked them to hunt up their town officers, informing them I would wait until they could either find the proper authorities, or by consultation among themselves, determine what they would do. Finally, I informed them that I would wait six hours, and if they would then comply with the re- quirements, their town would be safe; but if not, it would be de- stroyed, in accordance with my orders from General Early.


After a few hours of delay many citizens came to see me some were willing to pay the money, others were not. I urged them to comply, giving them such reasons as occurred to me at the time, and told them plainly wl^at they might expect in the event of their fail- ure to pay the money demanded. I showed to my officers and to the citizens who came to see me, my written authority and orders of General Early, and before a single house was burned both the citi-