Franklin County: Eliza R. Stouffer to Her "Sister in Faith,"
August 17, 1864
In this letter, Eliza Stouffer discusses the recent deaths of close friends and her mother and the displacement of families due to the burning of Chambersburg.
August 17th 1864
Dear sister in faith
after a long silence, or delay, first wishing unto you, much love, grace peace and mercy from God our Heavenly Father, who sees fit to give & bestow according to our need, may he strengthen & console you, in all your trials & temptations which no doubt you have to share with all the children of God. But a great consolation there is in his word, when he says that the hairs of our heads are all numbered and that not one of them shall fall to the ground without his notice. Is it not a wonder to us, that he should be so mindful of us poor creatures, and should it not strengthen our faith, so that we could more fully trust in him.
Dear sister I often have to think back of the times we spent together, how quiet and secure I
felt when with you, and how soon after, we had to be made afraid of the enemies of our own Country. I often have to study why it is so, Is God not ruler over
all, Is he not on the throne, has he not power over all, and can turn nations &
Kindred, all power is given him in Heaven & earth, for he overcame the world, There is still a
consolation left me, In this, that I believe it is not unknown to him, and would rather be ruled by him, than fall alone in the unmerciful hands of the wicked world. I believe too, that we observe a scourging, and have perhaps grown too cold & careless and that God through [deleted: his] mercy may have left this come upon us, to draw us nearer to him, & wean us off more from the world & the things of the world, when we see how soon we may be deprived of everything, we here possess, as we have many examples in our town. People that had everything that thethey could wish for, or make themselves comfortable, were deprived of [deleted: every] all in one hours time, many had only 10 to 15 minutes time given them to leave their houses, and then forbid many, to take anything out some saved a few clothes, others none at all, but what they had on their backs, some had their clothing & money packed up, and were not allowed to take them out one woman asked permission to save one silk dress, had it on her arms they took it from her & tore it all to shreds, others again were more merciful, & helped the women to carry out things some appeared to be very much affected that they had come to this, one in particular I was told of, that shed tears & would not help to burn. They took him & hand cuffed him, he told some
of the women that his wife lived in Baltimore, gave them his name & address to write to his wife & tell her why he was hand cuffed, did not Know but what they would Kill him, and he Knew it would be a consolation for her to Know that it was because he would not burn private property others were so affected when they saw the distress of some families, one in particular I was told that a woman handed her sick child out of the window to another one until she would get some necessary thing, he came and asked her, madam can I do anything for you, she said no, you have done me all the harm you can do, you cant do any worse, he took the child, & said This child does not feel revengeful, it has a smile on its countinance & he wept, your friends Isaac Snivelys were also burned out he was not at home at the time, she came out to our house with a few dresses on her arms, & her Brother-in- law with a Blanket & one quilt that they had saved many have not so much of their own as to lay their heads upon, they had their Pickets stationed all around town and on the hill above town had their cannon planted, in case should they be attacked, some think they did not get all accomplished, that they intended to do they had two pickets at the gate house near our mill & inquired about the place and if there were any stores here talked very boasting said they would like to get a shot at some yankee to get a yankee suit, and just then
some of our soldiers came round the corner, & took them prisoners, a great many People think if that had not happened our place would have shared the same fate, the next stationed pickets saw this & galloped off to town & told them the yankees were not more than three quarters of a mile off, that they think hastened them off. they then went back, and went through Loudon, set fire to the stores there, and also to a mill near by, but the Citizens still put it out. they were the next farm to my Brothers, but none came there. I was there at the time my mother was laying at the point of death at the same time we were all there us sisters, an exciting time it was for all of us, each one felt for their families at home but could not get home well, and did not like to leave our mother, we never left her Know anything about it. she was sick between three & four weeks something like inflammation of the liver suffered very much But was strong in faith & love and wished for her end. she was buried on sunday the seventh of August arrived to the age of 77 years 10 months & 24 days, had a small funeral the excitement was so great. very few horses at home, we could not sent word to Waynesboro, two days after Henry Ryders brother wife was buried she was sick only a short time with
Billious fever leaves one child. also Emanuel Millers widow near Waynesboro was buried near the same time I understood she was taken up in the church again shortly before, felt very good to her. I think you must have Known her-
I also received a letter from sister Rebekah Frantz which stated that Henry Frantz wife has also died I so often wondered how she was and whether she was rightly given up. I also heard through Hetty Ryder that sister Mattie Swartly had also died. how many changes there are often in a short time, that young sister Landis at Shippensburg also died right in harvest she was taken up in baptism when I was with you. She was strong in faith & hope, to the end hope you are well, also your Brother, hope he is better too we are just midling well our eldest son Amos has been lying sick with a fever now about 3 weeks is better is clear of fever again is weak yet has not much appetite yet. hope if it is the Lords will he may be again restored my love to you, and enquiring friends write when ever convenient as I would be glad to hear from you and Brother there. The Brethren & sisters are well as far as I Know at this time. Mary Crosgrove is about the same, still helpless otherwise does not suffer much at this time, is still at Stoners