Panoramic view of the Chambersburg Ruins, August 1864.
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Panoramic view of the Chambersburg Ruins.

Credit: The Pennsylvania State Archives

These photographs are three of many taken in the aftermath of the burning of Chambersburg on July 30, 1864. Photographs of Chambersburg in ruins circulated widely in the North and fueled calls for retaliation. That fall General Phil Sheridan's Union forces burned so many crops and barns in the Shenandoah Valley, that, as one observer put it, "a bird flying over the Valley, must carry it's own provender." In the deep South, General William Tecumseh Sherman would burn a swath through Georgia, South Carolina, and finally North Carolina, ending only after Confederate general Joseph Johnston surrendered in April 1865.

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