Chambersburg Penn., was burned July 30th, 1864, by orders of General Early in retaliation for the destruction by General Hunter of the public buildings and private houses at Lexington, Va., and elsewhere during his infamous raid to Lynchburg. Columbia was burned from pure revenge. The heart-rending accounts of the destruction of Chambersburg are only exceeded by the terrible sufferings of the impoverished and homeless people of Columbia. Chambersburg was the only town destroyed by the Confederates, and that was done for a specific purpose. The record on the other side is in fearful contrast.
In 1862 the following towns within the limits of the Confederates States were burned in whole or in part by the Federal army: Fredericksburg, Va.; Williamstown, N. C.; Hamilton, N. C.; Donaldsonville, Louisiana; Simsport, Louisiana.
In February, 1864, during the march of Sherman (whose military career was a success only so far as he destroyed property, for he never won a battle) from Vicksburg to Merridan, Miss., with 26,000 men, the following towns were burned in whole or in part: Merridan, Miss.; Canton, Miss.; Okalona, Miss. Contrast with this, the action of the Confederate army, as they invaded and retired from Pennsylvania without plunder. In this march of Sherman's to Merridan, he burned 10,000 bales of cotton, 2,000,000 bushels of corn, stole 8,000 slaves, and, according to a Federal writer, destroyed $50,000,000 worth of property, making thousands homeless and destitute. This was five months before Chambersburg felt the keen edge of the war. The burning at Lexington, Va., was six weeks before Chambersburg was destroyed.
It is stated, on good authority, that during the march through South Carolina, in which Sherman burned Columbia, the following towns in South Carolina were burned in whole or in part by his troops, without there being any cotton in them to give a colouring to a charge against the Confederates of having committed the vandalism: Robertville, Grahamsville, McPhersonville, Blackville, Barnwell, Orangeburg, Lexington, Winsboro, Camden, Lancaster, Chesterfield, Cheraw, Darlington, Charleston.
In November, 1864, Sherman destroyed Atlanta and Rome, Ga.
Had I the material at hand I would not ask that another should work up this interesting page in our Confederate war; but I am too far from the archives. I hope some of the facile writers who have added to your pages and who have the archives near by, may tell us how many more towns were burned by the Federal forces and the circumstances of the destruction of all that thus fell into the hands of the enemy.
Horace Edwin Hayden.