Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on March 26th.
25 Years Ago
March 26, 1995 – Sunday
“Hoffman is second in half-marathon”
Scotland – Jeremy Hoffman of Northumberland competed in the Chambersburg Half Marathon Saturday and placed second overall with a clocking of 1:14.30.
Hoffman is a freshman at Shippensburg University, where he competes on the cross country team.
50 Years Ago
March 26, 1970 – Thursday
“The Burning of Chambersburg”
Editor’s note: The following article was first published in the Pottstown Mercury late last year (1969.) It was sent to us by Glenn A. Hoover, 975 North Hills, Blvd.. Pottstown, a native of Falling Springs, as he describes it, near Chambersburg.
By W. EDMUNDS CLAUSSEN Area Historian
The blessed fact still remains that no one inside our country, with the exception of members of our armed forces and an occasional refugee from a conflict area, has any conception of what it means to flee before the torch.
The same fortunate situation has existed throughout our his tory except for periods of Indian warfare, a border village sacked by Mexican rebels, and much more serious, the regions wrecked by. Federal troops to destroy the Confederacy.
There is one other northern experience. On July 30, 1864, General Jubal Early turned John McCausland loose against Chambersburg in retaliation for recent wanton burning of a few southern houses.
“I came to the conclusion,” Early himself later wrote, “that it was time to open the eyes of the people of the North to his enormity, by an example in the way of retaliation.”
In regard to this act he later stated in his autobiography, “I alone am responsible, as the officers engaged in it were strictly executing my orders, and had no discretion left them. Notwithstanding the lapse of time which has occurred, and the result of the war, I see no reason to regret my conduct on this occasion.”
Chambersburg was not defended for the uncomplicated reason that all her sons had been sent to the fortifications around Washington. In a town composed of several thousand remained almost all women, children and old people. It is estimated that in all less than 300 men might have been located. McCausland, marching in before dawn, placed his six cannon on an eminence commanding thesquare. The destruction, in case resistance had been offered, would only have been greater.
At dawn the Eighth Virginia Regiment of Cavalry, about 500 men, was ordered forward into the town following skirmishers who entered by every street and alley. It is said McCausland with Johnson and Gilmore and other officers ordered breakfast at the Franklin House.
After this, McCausland ordered the courthouse bell to be tolled bringing the citizens together. Chambersburg people claim very few answered the call. Six prominent citizens were then arrested.
To them was read General Early’s order demanding $500,000 in Northern currency, or $100,000 in gold If not complied with, the town was to be burned. Barrels of kerosene were brought to the square. Memoirs state that fires were being kindled even while the hostages were declaring they would not give the Confederacy five cents.
The McCausland order stirred mutiny among a part of his command, Col. W. E. Peters of the 21st Virginia Cavalry demanded to be shown the documents under which they were acting. McCausland produced Early’s written orders, but Col Peters replied he would break his sword before warring on a community containing only women and children.
Peters, of course, was placed under arrest until the job was finished. There were others who resisted, but many were more than willing to throw the torch.
Dr. Freeman wrote (Lee’s Lieutenants, III, p 572), “They would have burned the town even more gladly had they known that Mahone’s men were gathering at that very hour in the ravine below Blandford’s Church outside Petersburg and were preparing to recover the crater of the mine sprung under the Confederate lines.
The Rev. S. J. Niccolls, pastor of the Presbyterian congregation, tells what he saw:
“As McCausland released the citizens he had arrested, the “smoke was rising from the doomed town, and most of these reached their homes to find them in flames. The scene that speedily followed is indescribable in its horrors. The soldiers went from house to house, bursting open the doors with planks and axes, and entering, split up the furniture to kindle the fire, or else scattered combustible materials in the closets and along the stairways, and then applied the torch.”
“In a little over half an hour the whole town was fired. No time was given the inhabitants to save anything. The first warning of danger most of them had was the kindling of fire in their houses, and even the few articles that some caught up in their flight, were seized by the soldiers and flung back into the flames.
“The aged, the sick, the dying and the dead were carried out from their burning homes; mothers with their babes in their arms, and surrounded by their frightened little ones, fled through the streets, jeered and taunted by the brutal soldiery. Indeed their escape seemed almost a miracle, as the streets were in a blaze from one end to the other, and they were compelled to flee through a long road of fire.
The statement of the Rev. B. S. Schneck (Burning of Chambersburg, Philadelphia 1864): “The house of Mr. James Watson, an old and feeble man of over eighty, was entered, and because his wife earnestly remonstrated against the burning, they fired the room, hurled her into it and locked the door on the outside.
“Mrs. Louis Shoemaker rushed up stairs when they fired her house to save some valuables, and returned with some silver spoons in her hand. She found the rebels quarreling over a valuable breast-pin of hers . . . and the dispute was ended . . . by one rudely taking the spoons from her and dividing them among the squad. Mrs. Denig escaped by wetting blankets and throwing them around, thus enabling her to get out through the burning buildings in the rear of her house.
“When the, flames drove Mrs. Shryock out with the child, she went to one of the men and presenting the dying babe, said ‘Is this revenge sweet?’ A tender chord was touched, and without speaking he burst into tears. He afterwards followed Mrs. Shryock and asked whether he could do anything for her; but it was too late. The babe had ceased to be motherless, for it shares a mother’s sepulchre . . .”
100 Years Ago
March 26, 1920 – Friday
“SYVRET IS GIVEN MEDAL BY FRANCE FOR WORK PARIS”
Chambersburg — Workers attached to the Young “Women’s Christian Association have been presented with medals by the French government as evidence of “French gratitude” for their labors. These workers have been active in welfare work among the French girls, particularly in the munition factories during the war. Those who received medals were ten young women including Clara Syvret of Chambersburg, Pa., and Agnes Winter, of Philadelphia.
Miss Syvret, mentioned in the above Associated Press dispatch to Public Opinion, is the French teacher at Wilson College who was granted a leave of absence by the college in order to return to her native land as a Y worker.
** Editor’s note: According to “Ancestry.com” Clara was born on April 6, 1863 at St. Peter, Jersey, Channel Islands. She passed away on January 10, 1930 while living in Canada –397Henry Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Her obituary is as follows: (Unfortunately, “Find a Grave” has no record of her being buried there as of date of my search:
MARQUAND — Clara Marquand died on Jan. 10, at the family residence, 397 Henry Ave … Clara Ann Marquand. aged 67 years, beloved wife of John Marquand. Funeral from Kerr’s Funeral Chapel on Monday. Jan. 13th at 1:45 p.m. service at Christ Church, 275 Henry Ave., at 3 p.m. The rector, Rev. H. J. Tomklns, will conduct the service. Interment will be at Elmwood Cemetery.
The “Medal of French Gratitude” was a French honor medal created on 13 July 1917 and solely awarded to civilians. The medal was created to express gratitude by the French government to all those who, without legal or military obligation, had come to the aid of the injured, disabled, refugees, or who had performed an act of exceptional dedication in the presence of the enemy during the First World War. The creation of this distinction was mainly the result of unsuccessful offensives of General Nivelle in 1917 and the serious crisis of confidence in France. The French government thus wanted to thank those who, despite the crisis, were always volunteering. It has three classes: bronze, silver, and gold. Nearly 15,000 people and communities were recipients of this award. The medal is no longer awarded, the last award was on 14 February 1959.