July 6, 1864: Ransom of Hagerstown, Maryland

Brigadier General John McCausland, Jr.

On July 5, 1864, Early’s Corps marched into Maryland in an attempt to take the pressure off Lee.  As part of this invasion Early sent Brigadier General John McCausland, Jr. to occupy Hagerstown, Maryland and demand a ransom from the town of $200,000.00 in recompense for the destruction wreaked in the Valley by Union General Hunter.  McCausland took the town without fighting early in the morning of July 6.

For some unknown reason McCausland demanded only $20,000.00 and 1500 suits of clothes for the ragged Confederates.  The dismayed citizens of Hagerstown raised the sum from three local banks and the clothes were provided.  McCausland and his men rode off at 1:00 AM on July 7.

Hagerstown got off lightly.  Frederick, Maryland during this campaign paid a ransom of $200,000.00.  The city of Frederick would be paying off this debt to local banks for almost a century, with the last payment made in 1951.

The threats to the cities were not idle bluffs, as Chambersburg, Pennsylvania would fight out on July 30, 1864 when the city failed to raise a half million ransom and the city was put to the torch by General McCausland with 1.2 million dollars of damage resulting.  Go here to read all about it.  The War was getting very harsh indeed by the summer of 1864.

After the War McCausland spent two years in Europe and Mexico before returning to the US.  He faced arson charges in Chambersburg, but President Grant pardoned him.  He would live until 1927, the last Confederate general to die.

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Published in: on July 6, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] telegraphs to the cashier of the Harrisburg Bank that the campaign is ended in that locality; the rebels have retreated from Hagerstown, and requesting him to send back the tellers with the money and the securities of the bank. The […]


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