Page:A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence in the Confederate States of America.djvu/71

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

return to the Valley, while we were near Washington, among other outrages, the private residences of Mr. Andrew Hunter, a member of the Virginia Senate, Mr. Alexander R. Boteler, an ex-member of the Confederate Congress, as well as of the United States Congress, and Edmund I. Lee, a distant relative of General Lee, all in Jefferson County, with their contents, had been burned by his orders, only time enough being given for the ladies to get out of the houses. A number of towns in the South, as well as private country houses, had been burned by the Federal troops, and the accounts had been heralded forth in some of the Northern papers in terms of exultation, and gloated over by their readers, while they were received with apathy by others. I now came to the conclusion that we had stood this mode of warfare long enough, and that it was time to open the eyes of the people of the North to its enormity, by an example in the way of retaliation. I did not select the cases mentioned, as having more merit or greater claims for retaliation than others, but because they had occurred within the limits of the country covered by my command, and were brought more immediately to my attention. [1]

The town of Chambersburg in Pennsylvania was selected as the one on which retaliation should be made, and McCausland was ordered to proceed with his brigade and that of Johnson and a battery of artillery to that place, and demand of the municipal authorities the sum of 100,000 in gold, or $500,000 in United States currency, as a compensation for the destruction of the houses named and their contents; and, in default of payment, to lay the town in ashes, in retaliation for the

  1. I had often seen delicate ladies, who had been plundered, insulted and rendered desolate by the acts of our most atrocious enemies, and while they did not call for it, yet in the anguished expressions of their features while narrating their misfortunes, there was a mute appeal to every manly sentiment of my bosom for retribution which I could no longer withstand. On my passage through the lower Valley into Maryland, a lady had said to me, with tears in her eyes, "Our lot is a hard one and we see no peace; but there are a few green spots in our lives, and they are, when the Confederate soldiers come along and we can do something for them." May God defend and bless those noble women of the Valley, who so often ministered to the wounded, sick and dying Confederate soldiers, and gave their last morsel of bread to the hungry! They bore with heroic courage the privations, sufferings, persecutions and dangers, to which the war which was constantly waged in their midst exposed them, and upon no portion of the Southern people did the disasters which finally befell our army and country, fall with more crushing effect than upon them.