Page:A memoir of the last year of the War of Independence, in the Confederate States of America.djvu/78

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74 BURNING OF CHAMBERSBURG.

On the 30th of July McCausland reached Chambersburof, and made the demand as directed, reading to such of the au- thorities as presented themselves the paper sent by me. The demand was not complied with, the people stating that they were not afraid of having their town burned, and that a Fed- eral force was approaching. The policy pursued by our army on former occasions had been so lenient, that they did not suppose the threat was in earnest this time, and they hoped for speedy relief. McCausland, however, proceeded to carry out his orders, and the greater part of the town was laid in ashes.* He then moved in the direction of Cumberland, but, on approaching that town, he found it defended by a force under Kelly too strong for him to attack, and he withdrew towards Hiimpshire County in Virginia, and crossed the Po- tomac near the mouth of the South Branch, capturing the

��forced back, and then the enemy advanced to this woods — Sumner's Corps, which was fresh, advancing on our left flank. My brigade then numbering about liiOO men for duty, with two or three hnnred men of Jackson's own divi- sion, who had been rallied by Colonels Grigsby and Stafford, and when there was an interval of at least one half a mile between us and any other part of our line, held Sumner's Corps in check for some time, until Green's division of Mansfit'ld's Corps penetrated into the interval in the woods between us and the rest of our line, when I was compelled to move by the flank and attack it. That division was driven out of the woods by my brigade, while Grigsby and Stafford skirmished with Sumner's advancing force, when we turned on it, and, with the aid of three brigades — to Wit : Anderson's, Semmes', and Barksdale's — which had just arrived to our assistance, drove it from the woods in great confusion, and with heavy loss. So great was the disparity in the forces at this point that the wounded officers who were captured, were greatly mortified, and commenced making excuses by stating that the troops in their front were raw troops who stampeded and produced confusion in their ranks. McClellan, in his report, says that Sumner's Corps and Green's division encountered, in this woods, *'ovei'- whelming numbers behind breastworks," and he assigns the heavy losses and consequent demoralization in Sumner's Corps, as one of the reasons for not re- newing the fight on the 18th. We had no breastworks or anything like them in that woods on the l7th, and, on our part, it Was a stand up fight there altogether. The slight breastworks subsequently seen by McClellan were made on the 18th when we were expecting a renewal of the battle.

  • For this act, I, alone, am responsible, as the officers engaged in it were simply

executing my ordei-s, and had no discretion left them. Notwithstanding the lapse of time which has occurred, and the result of the war, I am perfectly satis- fied with my conduct on this occasion, and see no reason to regret it.

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