Here is a letter that hasn't been posted to this site before. The passage that inspired me to locate the complete letter is:
I was detailed at Atlanta to stay behind after the regiment left and fire the camp and surrounding buildings. Most of the people left their houses without saying a word, for they heard the cry of Chambersburg and they knew it would be useless to contend with the soldiers. But as I was about to fire one place a little girl about ten years old came to me and said, “Mr Soldier, you would not burn our house would you? If you do where are we going to live?” And she looked into my face with such a pleading look that I could not have the heart to fire the place, so I dropped the torch and walked away. But Chambersburg is dearly paid for.
- The letter is from Allen Campbell, to his father, and is dated December 21, 1864. Campbell served in the 1st Michigan Engineers & Mechanics regiment, which was part of William T. Sherman's command.
- Chambersburg, PA had been burned by Jubal Early's forces on July 30, 1864.
- David Sobie quotes this passage in his paper Renewed Vigor: How the Confederate retaliatory burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania Sanctioned the Unleashing of Sherman’s Destructive March through the South.
- I edited the passage for punctuation and capitalization.