Chambersburg Comes to Life

Join us on Saturday, July 20th 2024 in Downtown Chambersburg as the town is set ablaze to commemorate the day that Chambersburg was held for ransom and then burned by the Confederate army under General McCausland. We celebrate community, rebirth and Chambersburg’s rise from the ashes with a day full of events.



  • Old Market Day Street Festival

  • Civil War Walking Tours

  • 11/30 Visitors Center Exhibits

  • Children’s Activities

  • Acapella & Unplugged Finals
    plus Voting for the Winner

1864 Ransoming,
Burning & Rebirth

Living History
Re-enactment &
Light Show

This exciting re-enactment and light show is done completely with atmospheric effects, lights, and actors!

Join the thousands that gather to watch as the town is transported back to 1864 and history comes to life.

July 20 is packed with lots to see and do!

9 AM – 4 PM – Old Market Day fills the streets of Chambersburg with over 100 vendors.
10 AM – 4 PM – Franklin County Historical Society/Old Jail on King Street is celebrating Louisa Brand, an 1864 resident, who wrapped herself with the American flag and defied Confederates to take it.
9 AM – 8:00 PM – Franklin County Visitors Bureau (FCVB), 15 South Main Street, offers a children’s area with crafts, coloring pages, and ball pit. Video vault will air FCVB-TV episodes. Take a selfie with Ben Franklin. Enter to win a gift basket. Take the self-guided walking tour; download here.
4 PM – 9 PM – The Chambersburg Volunteer Fireman’s Museum, 441 Broad Street, is open for free tours. Check out the 1850 hose cart, which was at the burning of Chambersburg.
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM – Evening horse and wagon tours, highlighting properties of today and what was onsite in 1864. Rides are free, loading northwest of fountain, and last 12 minutes.
5:30 pm – 8 PM – Enjoy food vendors, including Copper Fox Coffee, Boost Burger, Jerky Shak, Yard Goat Treats, and more. Dining is, also, available along Main Street at Classic Family Diner, Don Checko’s, Veroni Cafe, Falafel Shack, and Bistro 71.
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM – Courthouse Plaza is the stage for celebrating 10 years of A Cappella & Unplugged and the 2024 Finals of the competition. Finalists are Jeff Trish, Marissa Porter, Kiley Heltzel, Calamity & Justus, and Paul Minnich. Audience members vote for their favorite performance by ballot and text vote. Winner receives $500.
8:45 PM – Join thousands, who gather to watch, as the town is transported back to 1864 and ransomed by Confederate soldiers.

1864 Ransoming,
Burning & Rebirth

is a re-enactment and light show

done completely with

atmospheric effects and actors.

The steps of the

1865 Franklin County Courthouse

are the stage.

Bring a lawn or stadium chair.

The event is rain or shine.

New in 2024

is an LED panel display

with a live feed to help the

audience experience

the total event

On July 30, 1864, Brigadier General John McCausland and 2,800 Confederate cavalrymen entered Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, rang the Courthouse bell to gather citizens and read a ransom demand of $100,000 in gold or $500,000 in Yankee currency or else the town would be burned in retaliation for the destruction committed by General Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley.

Even if the citizens of Chambersburg wanted to meet the demand, they could not. With the Stuart’s raid in 1862 and the invasion of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1863, residents shipped their valuables out of town. Banks, also, transported their money to safer places. The townspeople knew Couch telegraphed Averell and stalled for time. As soon as McCausland realized the ransom demand would not be paid, he gave the order to burn the town.

Detachments were sent to different parts of the town. Firing the buildings on the square commenced. Houses were opened, furniture was broken, piled in heaps, and set on fire. Sometimes the fire was started in closets or bureaus with clothing. The Confederates moved quickly and fired building after building. It was a horrific and startling scene.

The firing of the town began about 8 AM and by 11 AM, the Confederate forces had all left Chambersburg with ten squares of properties in ruin and 2000 residents homeless. The destruction was massive.  Flames destroyed more than 500 structures leaving more than 2,000 homeless.

However, this would not be the end.  Out of the ashes of this tragic event, through strength and courage of a determined people, Chambersburg would be rise.

One month after the burning, Chambersburg was busy formulating progressive recommendations for the rebuilding of the Town.  Then ten years after the 1864 burning, the community was solidly moving toward a new era. Ladies groups and veterans’ organizations resolved to establish a memorial to pay tribute to the soldiers of Franklin County in the Civil War. On Saturday, July 20, 1878 more than 15,000 gathered in the diamond of Chambersburg to remember, honor, and appreciate the County’s veterans with the dedication of the 26-ft. tall, 5-basin cast iron bronze Memorial Fountain. It included a 7-ft, tall bronze soldier. Along with the tribute to veterans, the day carried a significant amount of gratitude for the good fortune of Chambersburg to emerge from the ashes rather than be buried by the events of July 30th, 1864. It was a day to celebrate Chambersburg coming to life and Memorial Fountain stands as a constant reminder.

The rebuilding brought a fresh vibrant Chambersburg. The Cumberland Valley Railroad extended to Hagerstown and on to Winchester. The Western Maryland railroad extended the rail line from Waynesboro to Chambersburg. Chambersburg commenced the municipal operation of utilities and the size of the town expanded. By 1900, Chambersburg had 9000 residents, nearly twice the population at the time of the 1864 burning.

Join us Saturday, July 20, 2024

 See you there!