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VOL I, No. 1
Hagerstown, Maryland - Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE RANSOM OF HAGERSTOWN AND GENERAL MCCAUSLAND'S RAMPAGE THROUGH WASHINGTON AND FREDERICK COUNTIES

Hagerstown Herald and Torch Light

July 6, 1864

"THE RAID"

(Transcription with pictures added and edited for easier reading.)

Hagerstown Bank

On Sunday the 3rd inst., at about 12 o’clock, in a rumor began to be circulated in our streets, to the effect that the Rebels had possession of Martinsburg, and were on their way to this place. Rumor succeeded rumor, and the last was always more alarming than its predecessor , and no two of them were exactly the alike, but the fact that the Rebels were on their way to pay us a huge visit was sufficient in itself to cause alarm. Evening came, and with it came a host of persons in every grade and color, eager to keep out of the reach of the advancing foe. Our merchants and business men began to see the necessity of removing whatever was valuable and moveable, and general packing up commenced, and before midnight many had their goods on the road to some place of safety, and others who were not encumbered with property, left as speedily as possible. Monday came, and still the number of rumors had not diminished, but on the contrary were on the increase, and were more alarming than to those of the proceeding day. Excited men came into town each vieing (vying) with the other in magnifying the approaching danger. Some had seen the enemy crossing the river twenty, twenty-five and even thirty thousand strong. This as a matter of course was not calculated to allay the feverish excitement which prevailed. On Tuesday morning it was ascertained that the Rebel pickets were really advancing, and occasional skirmishing rook place between them and our own, and about 2 o’clock on that afternoon, some fifteen or twenty Rebel cavalry dashed into town on the Sharpsburg Turnpike and were met and driven beyond St. James’ College where a Rebel Lieutenant and two privates were captured. Nothing further occurred until the following day at 1 o’clock, when our pickets were again driving on in the Sharpsburg pike, and were immediate followed by a heavy force of the enemy, principally mounted infantry. A street fight ensued, when our force, which did not exceed eighty or ninety men, were driven from the town, after loosing from fourteen to seventeen men who were taken prisoners. These men had been out in the direction of Funkstown, under commend of Lieutenant Torrence, of the 14th Pennsylvania Calvary and dashed into town and into the midst of the enemy during the progress of the flight. Lieut. T. was wounded through the shoulder and in the side, and slightly in the neck, and had his horse shot under him, but escaped capture by passing through a gate and secreting himself in the house of one of our citizens. The gallantry displayed by Lieutenant Torrence on this occasion entitles him to the respect and confidence of those both above and below him in his regiment and should secure for him a higher position than that which he now holds. Lieutenants Stanwood, Jones Winchester. and Draper were in command of squads and discharged their duty faithfully, and with a coolness and bravery which did credit to themselves. The whole squad was under immediate command of Lieut. H.S. McLean, who handled it very well, and gave evidence that he possesses, in a high degree, the qualities which mark the true soldier. Both officers and men, ever since the beginning of our troubles, have conducted themselves like soldiers, and have won the confidence of the citizens.

College of Saint James

As soon as the rebels found they were in undisturbed possession of the town, they began to make inquiry for the borough council. An interview was soon had, and the rebel General made his demands known, a list of which will be found in another column. The council were politely told by this polished representative of our “Southern brethern” that if the demand was not was compiled with, within a limited time, the town would be laid in ashes. A town meeting was called to assemble in the Court House. Our citizens on collecting together discussed the demand of the rebel General and decided that our Council should raise the money, and as much of the clothing as was possible for them to do. Three hours were given in which to pay the money and furnish the required amount of clothing. Additional time was asked in which to raise it, but General McCausland was deaf to every appeal, and swore bitterly that if his demands were not complied within the time specified, his threat would be carried out to the letter. At last, however, when he found that there was a disposition on the part of the council and the people were to furnish the required amount, he extended the time two hours telling them that if the requisition was not filled by that time, they knew what they had to expect. He then marched a regiment of his troops into the town, and stationed them in front of the Court-House, evidently for the purpose of intimidating our citizens, or with a view of carrying out his threat provided the money and goods were not promptly handed over at the hour stipulated. Every effort was put forth, and clothing of every hue and material was taken to the Court House, where it was placed in the hands of committee whose duty was to hold it and transfer it to the “Chivalry”. The supply in town however, was found to be sadly deficient, and the fact was soon announced to the free-booter-in-chief, who in the classical language peculiar to his class and the land from which he hailed. said to them that if it was not “forthcoming by the time specified, by the eternal Jesus Christ, he would carry out his threat should it cost him his own life and that of his whole command.” He told them that before doing so, he would give them half an hour to remove the women and children from town, and that they might expect no leniency at his hands. Every effort was made to reach some tender chord in the region of his heart, but unfortunately there was not a single one which was not proof against all appeals. At last the idea occurred to some of the council members that he might be reached through some one of his staff. This was tried, and proved successful, and the articles given in the list which will be found elsewhere in our paper were accepted. Our citizens wisely withheld the $20,000 until they had assurance from McCausland that the amount of clothing which was raised was satisfactory. As soon as that assurance was given, the clothing was taken to the Court House and the money paid over. When the clothing was taken there, this dashing Southern chief was amongst the first to “grab” a new hat; and as his “sark” was of ‘creeshy flannen.’ (greasy flannel) and fouler, if possible, than that spoken of by Scotia’s immortal bard in his imitable tale of Tam O’ Shanter, he helped himself to a clean one with as much eagerness as a highwayman would manifest when relieving a man of his purse on some public thoroughfare. There was none of that “modest dignity” in the man of which we have heard so much-none of that “polish and southern refinement so peculiar to the man of the South,” but he walked forward to the promiscuous mass of clothing piled up before him, and like one who had been trained to the profession of a highwayman, helped himself to whatever suited his purpose, with a grin of exultation such you might expect to see upon the face of the leader of a banditti. This Champion of “Southern rights” is about five feet ten inches in height, squarely built, with coarse, red beard, rough, rude and brutal in his intercourse with those with whom he came in contact; proverbially profane, and to use the expression of one of his command,” “he has not a single redeeming quality except that he is brave and will fight.”

Whilst our citizens were collecting the money and clothing, demanded by this representative of the “Chivalry,” he and his associates effected an entrance into the different Drug stores in the place, and helped themselves to the contents without asking whether the owners were friends or foes. Their object was booty, and it mattered but little to them whose it was. It was clear gain to them and they took it without waiting to inquire whose it was or that the opinions of the owners.

After the money and clothing had been handed over to them, they began to make preparations for leaving, and at 1 o’clock, A.M. left the place marching in the direction of Boonsboro. This ended the operations of Wednesday.

On Thursday but a few of them visited the place. Occasionally throughout the day, little squads might be seen passing along the streets, but no damage was done to any property and no one was molested. On Friday morning, however, a band of guerrillas numbering about one hundred and eighty men, under command of Major Davis, entered the town, and broke into a number of shoe and shoe stores. Amongst the sufferers, were Messrs. Knodle and Small, shoe-dealers, and Messrs. Rouskulp and Updegraff, dealers in hats. The losses by these gentlemen were considerable, although we have not ascertained what the amount really is. During the time this was going on, or immediately after, the hay belonging to the Government, and the Engine House of the Franklin Railroad Company were fired by the party and consumed. They then turned their attention to the oats and corn belonging to the Government, which were stored in the Warehouses of Messrs. Eichelberger and Thurston. Our citizens remonstrated against this procedure, alleging that they had already paid the amount demanded or at least the commanding officer was satisfied with the amount paid and had released them. This was not satisfactory, but they stipulated to save the Warehouse provided they were paid the sum of five hundred dollars and that some one of the citizens would give bond in one hundred thousand dollars that the grain would be burned, and in default of doing so, he should, in addition, forfeit his life. Mr. Isaac Nesbitt, Clerk of our Courts, agreed to the conditions, and gave the requisite bond and the people proceeded to carry the grain and set it on fire in accordance with the understanding between the parties. They then demanded ten pairs of boots with the understanding that on receipt of them they would vacate the place. This was agreed to. The boots were furnished and the party left. A few remained prowling about the town until Saturday evening when our cavalry came into town and this ended the raid so far as Hagerstown was concerned.

Updegraff's Hat Store

Throughout this entire difficulty, our borough council have (has) done their duty fully and faithfully, and are entitled to the thanks for the entire people. Had they not paid the money, and to the utmost of their ability, furnished the clothing, the consequences to the people would have been serious in the extreme. It was not the desire of the soldiery that they should do so, and had it not been done, a very different state of affairs would have existed in that which followed the payment of the money. The council knew that in case of non-compliance with the demand, a system of pillage and outrage would have been inaugurated, such as the only known in times of civil war, and they wisely and prudently adopted the only course which was calculated to prevent it, and for this they are entitled to the thanks of every citizen of the place. Those who had any intercourse with General McCausland must know that he is not the kind of man who would be likely to throw restraints around his men, but on the contrary would be disposed to give them unbridled license to do whatever they might desire. What would have been the condition of unprotected females, had the followers of such a man been permitted to roam at will throughout the place? The sum of $20,000 would not have been as a feather in the scale against such a calamity, nor would it have been anything in comparison to the losses which would have been sustained by pillage. Our council and those who acted with them in this matter have done their duty faithfully and he who would object to the course they pursued, has not the well-being of the community at heart or is blind to the consequences which would have followed a different policy.

Immediately after troops were sent here, Wm. E. Wilson, the efficient and gentlemanly operator in the office of the Atlantic & Ohio Telegraph Company, at Harrisburg, was given charge of the wires at this point. He remained in Hagerstown until the rebels occupied it, communicating with the Government authorities, making known every movement of the enemy. He subsequently effected telegraph communication from the woods below town in sight of the enemy and exhibited a spirit of courage and patriotism truly commendable.

Whilst the 1500 men under McCausland were operating in Hagerstown other bodies of the enemy were scattered over the southern portion of the County, robbing stores, stealing horses and cattle, and destroying property. In Williamsport they entered the stores and carried off whatever suited their purpose, and even entered private houses, compelling ladies to open their drawers in order that they might take therefrom any articles of value which they found. The losses sustained by the merchants and dealing men of the place are said to have been heavy, but their extent we have not been able to ascertain definitely. At Boonsboro where a heavy body of the enemy remained for a day or two we have no intelligence of their operations other than that they destroyed the printing material of the Odd Fellow newspaper and took whatever property of a moveable character they thought might be of use to them. In their course through the Country they took wagons, horses, cattle and sheep without paying any respect to either friend or foe; but of the damage done in particular neighborhoods or to particular individuals, we have not been able to make a reliable summary and therefore refrain from attempting it, lest we should add another to the many contradictory statements which have already found their way into print.

What was the real number of Rebel troops within the limits of our Country we have so no means of knowing, and find, on diligent inquiry, that others are as much in the dark in relation to it as ourselves. The policy of the enemy seemed to be to keep us uninformed and to magnify the number of their forces as much as possible. It is certain, however, that is was large enough to sweep over the Country and to take from the inhabitants whatever was valuable or useful, and to retire with its booty without punishment, rejoicing over its success.

[Frederick County, Battle of Monocacy and on to Washington]

After plundering the people of Washington County, they moved off in the direction of Frederick, and when their advanced scouts were within four miles of that city, they were met by Cole’s Maryland Cavalry when a skirmish took place. The Cavalry not knowing the strength of the enemy fell back to Frederick. This occurred at 2 o’clock on Wednesday. Later in the day, a detachment of the 8th Illinois Cavalry, Cole’s Maryland Battery, with a section of Alexander's Maryland Battery, during the night drove a party of about one hundred towards the enemy through Middletown towards South Mountain. This Rebel force had occupied Middletown during the day, and had plundered the stores of whatever was valuable and has demanded $5,000 in money, $1,500 of which was paid, but the balance was saved by the arrival of a squad of our Cavalry which prevented the rebels from coming into town at the appointed hour to receive it. We have not been able to ascertain the number of killed and wounded in this fight on either side, but were informed by an eye witness that one shell thrown by the 8th Illinois Cavalry killed six and wounded eight rebels.

At about half past three o’clock Thursday our forces fell back within a mile of Frederick where they made a stand, and waited the approach of the enemy who made their appearance in about half an hour, when Captain Alexander’s guns opened on them with a view of checking their advance. They, however, formed, planting their guns on Hagan’s and the Red Hills, with their infantry posted in the valley formed by these and the Catoctin Mountains. The fight for some time was exclusively with artillery, and during its progress, one of their guns was dismounted by a shot from one of Alexander’s guns commanded by Lieut. Parkins. After sometime the infantry became engaged, and at a little after six o’clock it was ascertained that the ammunition was nearly exhausted. Couriers were dispatched to report to Generals Tyler and Wallace at the Frederick Junction, about three miles from the city, when a special train was immediately sent with an ample supply. About seven o’clock our forces drove the enemy back a short distance, and held their advanced position until night put an end to the fight. The forces engaged on our side were, the 3d Maryland, 700 strong, which came up at the commencement of the action singing "Rally Round the Flag Boys"; the 8th Illinois Cavalry, 300 men; three pieces of Alexander's Battery, with 50 men, and two companies of Maulsby's Home Brigade. The following is a list of the casualties during the fight.

Alexander's Battery-Sergeant Charles C. Green wounded.

First Regiment Potomac Home Brigade-J. Cunningham wounded.

Third Regiment Potomac Home Brigade-Major H. C. Rizer, Charles H. Mason, J. W. Ball, S. Mobley, John O'Brien, G. W. Springer, J. Baker, J. W. Rice, J. A. Binney, J. Richards, J. T. Halstead, S. Yates, J. W. Cruntilson and A. Fite, all wounded.

Eight Illinois Calvary – Lieutenant Gilbert, who was at first reported dead, is very severely wounded by a shot through the breast, C. Greensville, G.H. Remington, W. N. Ambury and S.A. Carver wounded.

Very few are seriously wounded.

Owing to heavy reinforcements having been received by the enemy during the night, General Wallace deemed it prudent to fall back to the Junction and after collecting all his supplies and military stores he accordingly did so, leaving Frederick unprotected. This, however, was the only course left open for him. The city was now taken possession of by the enemy when a contribution of $200,000 was levied on the citizens which was paid. This, with the plunder they obtained, made their visit to the city a profitable one.

At 8 o’clock on Saturday morning General Wallace had his forces in line on the South-East bank of the Monocacy, awaiting an attack by the enemy. The battle soon after began, and was kept up with spirit and personal daring on both sides for a short period of eight hours, when our forces were compelled to retreat. During the progress of the battle, the enemy made several ineffectual attempts to take the covered turnpike bridge. Every attempt was repulsed with severe loss to the enemy, but at 4 o’clock General Wallace ordered it to be fired, believing that it would be impossible for him to hold it longer. General Tyler in the meantime had repulsed several advances to the Railroad bridge. At the same time two regiments of Ohio troops held the enemy at bay at the stone bridge on the Baltimore pike. Two miles below the covered bridge, the stream was found to be fordable and easily approached from either side. The enemy taking advantages of this, threw six regiments across the stream at this point of our flank. This decided the fate of the day, yet our men fought with spirit and determination until they found that farther resistance would only result in an unnecessary sacrifice of life and in all probability the capture of the entire force. An orderly retreat was now commenced down the Baltimore pike in the direction of Ellicot[t]s Mills. From all we can gather of this battle, no body of troops since the breaking out of this war have acquitted themselves with greater bravery and although compelled to abandon the field before superior numbers they did it like men who deserved success.

After the defeat of General Wallace at the Monocacy, the enemy pushed forward making a feint upon Baltimore, destroying bridges, cutting railroad communication and severing the telegraph wires, the main body turned in the direction of Washington when they made a demonstration on Fort Stevens, distant  about seven miles from the City, where they were repulsed with some loss. In their course they burned the houses of Governor Bradford and Postmaster-General Blair. After their unsuccessful attempt on Washington, they turned in the direction of the “Sunny South” with all their booty moving in advance of them and our forces in pursuit. Whether they will be overtaken and relieved of any portion of this booty is question which yet remains to be solved.

Images from:

Lake, Griffing & Stevenson. An Illustrated Atlas of Washington County, Maryland. Philadelphia, PA: 1877. (College of St. James and Updegraff’s Hat Store)

Williams, Thomas J. C. Hagerstown: An illustrated description of the city…Hagerstown, MD: Mail Publishing Co., 1887. (Hagerstown Bank)