In the summer of 1863, Franklin County PA was the advance and the retreat of the Battle of Gettysburg. Confederate General Robert E. Lee and more than 65,000 men camped in and around Chambersburg. Until the Battle of Gettysburg, the tide of Civil War ebbed and flowed between the North and South. But, with the losses of the Battle of Gettysburg, the chances of Southern victory, it is often seen as the turning point of the American Civil War. But, the Civil War connection does not begin and end here. Chambersburg, PA saw far more destruction in the summer of 1864.
General “Tiger” John McCausland, under orders from General Jubal Early, ransomed Chambersburg for $500,000 in U.S. currency or a $100,000 in gold on July 30, 1864. Unable to raise the money, the town was fired. Confederates ordered the burning as retribution for Union destruction by Union General David Hunter in Virginia.
As the call “remember Chambersburg” echoed throughout the North, the Franklin Repository of August 24, 1864 reported that half of the town’s people were homeless and many more penniless and helpless. Nearly 600 citizens filed claims asking the federal government to repay them for the damage.
Learn more about the Burning of Chambersburg here.