Failing to obtain the tribute, McCausland was instructed to burn the town and return to Virginia. Chambersburg was defended by only a small battery of artillery and some irregular troops, which were soon driven off. The Confederates force of over 1,000 cavalry composed of the 1st and 2nd Maryland and the 8th and 37th Virginia units easily took possession of the town.
Adjunct-General Henry Fitzhugh presented the few citizens in the "diamond" with the demands. The order to torch Chambersburg triggered objections from some Southern troops, most notably from Colonel W. E. Peters who refused to obey and was put under arrest for his defiance. McCausland personally handled the operation and, when the demands were not met, the destruction was begun in the center of town and fire consumed over 500 buildings.
When the fire was in full force, the command left the scene at which time a breakdown of military discipline ensued and disorder and looting prevailed. No civilian lives were lost, as the townspeople had evacuated to the nearby fields and hills outside the town. However, one straggling Confederate soldier was killed, having been caught by a group of angry residents with stolen property after the rest of the troops had left.
McCausland's troops left Chambersburg by midday and the brigades re-grouped on the high ground overlooking town. They then traveled via McConnellsburg toward Hancock, Maryland where they levied yet another ransom.
The horrors of the war had been brought to the North.
The Burning of Chambersburg - July 30, 1864" was commissioned by F&M Trust for the 2004 Commemoration of the 140th Anniversary of the Burning of Chambersburg. The original oil painting (41"x27") was donated by F&M Trust to the Chambersburg Heritage Center, where it is on permanent display.
Note: Artist Edition Prints are still available. Please contact F&M Trust Marketing Dept. at 717-261-3664 to purchase.
SOLD OUT!Artist Edition
Limited Edition of 300, Signed, Sealed and Numbered, Framed and Matted Fine Art Reproduction on Archival Paper. (Frame size: 20 x 16, Print size: 19 x 15, Image size: 16.5 x 11)
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Limited Edition of 15, Signed and Numbered, Giclee on Canvas (33 x 21 inches)
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Limited Edition of 100, Signed, and Numbered, Matted Fine Art Reproduction on Archival Paper. (Matte size: 20 x 16, Print size: 19 x 15, Image size: 16.5 x 11)