Chambersburg after the burning.
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The town of Chambersburg after the burning.

Credit: Courtesy of Richard H. Shryock.

A warehouse was the first to go. Then the courthouse, and the town hall. On a hot, breezeless July 30, 1864, Chambersburg was burning. Earlier that day, Jubal Early ordered two cavalry brigades to raid Chambersburg and demand $100,000 in gold or $500,000 in greenbacks. "In default of the payment of this money," Early's order announced, the town "is directed to be laid in ashes in retaliation for the burning of… houses of citizens of Virginia by Federal authorities." When ransom was not paid, the rebels put Chambersburg to the torch.

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