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Franklin County: Diary of William Heyser (1862-1863)

About William Heyser:
William Heyser was born in Pennsylvania in 1796. A shopkeeper in Chambersburg's South Ward, Heyser also supervised his family farm until he sold it in 1862. He remained in Chambersburg with his wife, adult children, and grandchildren until his death on November 5, 1863, just after this diary concludes. His diary provides insight into wartime life on the Franklin County home front.


September 1862

SEPTEMBER 29, 1862

Clear and dry. Death of Matthew Gillan. One of the first volunteers to meet the call to arms, but remained a short time. Returned, in worse shape, and declined thereafter. He was a kind, goodnatured man, and will be missed by his family.

Death of Jacob Oyster, a pillar of the Methodist Church, and a staunch citizen, much respected. One of our last citizens of the older generation.

October 1862


John Mull and I visited one of the hospitals of wounded soldiers in the Academy Building. About 100 of them, mostly wounded in their lower parts, but some with their arms and legs off. They are well taken care of and plenty of supplies for their wants.


Rain, which we need badly. We see untold thousands of dollars drained from our Treasury by unscrupulous men using the war to further their personal affairs. We have several cases in our town that did not get their wealth honestly, but robbed by men in official stations.


Our town has greatly changed by the events of the war-- business is so good, our small town is taking on a city appearance of activity. We hear the Rebels plan a retreat from Staunton. McClelland at present has control of Winchester. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation denounced in Richmond. Some here do not think wisely of it as many abolitionists are so wild they would change our Constitution. Some of the wounded here are Masons. One who died at the home of Burnet, I read the Masonic service for his burial. He and several others then taken to the cars where they will be transported home for interment. There was quite a number already received, filling up a car. Quite a rush of females to view the deceased, there being a glass opening in the box.

The crowd at the depot very large, from there to the hospital, near the jail which I visited to see some acquaintances, and perhaps offer a little help some way. To view this brings the war awfully near and deep sympathy for these poor suffering men.

To my farm, find it too dry to plant anything. It will be a loss this year, for a good crop if there is no immediate rain. The engines and cars are very busy taking supplies to McClelland on the Potomac. They are running night and day.


Clear and pleasant. Every day we hear the sad strains of marshal music as the hearses pass carrying the dead from some distant battlefield to be buried at their home. The hearses are draped with flags and the procession partly military. Every day the cars bring from 20 to 30 dead through our town.


Pleasant. Left to visit my mountain land. Saw many turkeys and partridges, but didn't have my gun.


Rain today. A great saving for the farmers who were facing a great drought. Business is flourishing in town. The Rebels are in Mercersburg, and on the way to Chambersburg from St. Thomas. This evening they entered our town, demanding its surrender. Some 1500-2000 cavalry, with some artillery. They immediately took possession of the bank and telegraph office. Also requisitioned provisions, clothing, etc. as to their needs. It has all happened so quickly, we all felt safe knowing the Union Army was in Williamsport, Maryland. The Confederate troops all look well fed and clothed, and so far, conducted themselves orderly. They will be busy stripping our stores and gathering up horses. I have sent my three off with Proctor, I hope they got away safely. I did not go to bed until after one o'clock, watching what may happen after all retire. So far, all quiet. Secreted some of my most valuable papers and went to bed, slept soundly until morning.


Clear and pleasant. Rose early and to the square. Saw Major General Stewart and General Hampden in conference. The stores were all closed. Broke open Isaac Hutton's shoe store, helped themselves freely. Then to the depot and confiscated a large shipment of arms and clothes. Afterwards, set fire to all the buildings and left town by the Baltimore Pike. They had fired the building of Wanderlick and Nead County which was used as a storehouse for government ammunition. The succeeding explosions of shells and powder was tremendous. The loss must be very great. All the machinery and present locomotives destroyed at the shops. This was all the fault of A.H. Lule, superintendent of the railroad shops. He should have sent the war supplies back to Carlisle, instead of keeping them here, being warned as early as three o'clock the past afternoon. However, this saved our stores from being pillaged as they got enough at the depot. Everybody out on the streets seeking news.

About mid-day, a large scouting party of our troops came through producing a great sensation. We hear of another group at Waynesboro, marching towards Gettysburg hoping to head them off. All in all the invasion was a very orderly one. The troops were well disciplined and polite. Not a single house or person injured. They were more orderly than troops of ours that have passed this way. Outside of their plundering of Isaac Hutton's shoe store, nothing else occurred to criticize them. Many people from the country came into town in search of news and carried home relics of the Rebel Invasion, as shells, balls, saberparts, parts of muskets, etc. Nearly every man and boy had some souvenir.


Clear and pleasant, the Sabbath. All is calm, who would suspect that so much excitement had prevailed yesterday. However, there is much apprehension they will return. Some 2,000 troops from Maryland came this morning and encamped outside of town on the Baltimore Pike. I knew not of their coming and arrival until this afternoon. At three, attending a religious service at the Hall among the wounded soldiers. Rev. Bausman conducted the services.


Cloudy, a little rain. The encamped Rebels have moved on to Fayetteville, and across the mountain to Cashtown. There they went South through Emmittsburg and Monrovia to the mouth of the Monocacy. Thus completely avoiding the searching Federal forces, and disappeared into Virginia. Their mission accomplished.


Pleasant. Out to my farm to ascertain the damage done by the soldiers. Much fencing gone for fuel, and what corn they didn't use, tried to burn. Many farmers without horses and at a loss to do any work. We find no buildings burned or occupants harmed.


Much apprehension about the Rebels returning as they have camped along the Potomac. We can hear cannoning from the vicinity of Hancock, perhaps some skirmishes.

The Rebels had found little at our bank of value, but did not complain. They were looking mainly for horses. I had previously sent mine with my man Proctor to Waynesboro, some 16 miles distance, for safekeeping. Many others not as fortunate as they delayed. They did take eight young colored men and boys along with them, in spite of their parents pleading. I fear we will never see them again, unless they can escape.


Our church has decided on the final adoption of the much discussed Liturgy as a book to be used in our church and family worship. I am glad this had been decided, we were much divided.


Pleasant. Business at the bank, rode to my farm to inspect the new seeding. Home early in the evening to do some writing. Agreeable to the solicitation of Doctor Wilson, an artist, I sat for my portrait. He noticed some of my landscape work, which he commended. I suppose my work would improve with practice, but it is now too late in life to hope for much proficiency. Some cavalry here this evening, to secure horses for General McClelland's command. They hope to find two hundred by tomorrow evening.

I fear Lincoln is a tool in the hands of the Abolitionists. We need a man of Jackson's iron will in our present emergency to hold our National Government together.


Cloudy. Our town filling up with drafted men to be sent to camp for training. Visited a wounded Mason (Captain Miller Moody from Ohio) who lost one of his legs at Antietam. He is very low in spirits and much emaciated, his wife and sons are visiting him. Spent some time with Wilson, the artist.


Clear and pleasant. We had a sale of the Rebels worn-out horses, left here by Stewart's cavalry. Spent some time with Mr. Wilson, the artist.


Beautiful weather. Out to my farm for inspection of the seeding. Nearly opposite there is an encampment of the drafted militia under Colonel George Wiestling, who is to get them in military trim. They are a raw set of men. It is hoped to get at least 600,000 men for another army together to crush this rebellion. Meanwhile our national debt is staggering, some 640,000,000 dollars. The expenditure of a million and a quarter a day to keep this war machine going.


Beautiful weather. At the bank, called to see Captain Moody who is improving, but very weak. Spent most of the afternoon with Jeremy Wilson, the artist. In the evening, took Captain Moody some fruit. Rev. Bausman called and stayed until about ten. He feels that I should do more visiting among the members of our congregation.

November 1862

NOVEMBER 1, 1862

Fine weather. Visited Captain Moody who would like some fresh fish. He is improving. Called then on Barney Minnich, an old fisherman, to procure some for me. Attended to Sabbath school and Bible class activities.


Weather cold and rough. There was quite a change last night. The sky is overcast with dark clouds and the wind has a wintry feel. It sighs around the corners as in mid-winter, and creates a melancholy feeling-for me, it is music. I can sit for hours and listen to it with pleasure.


Business good at the bank, we declared a 5% dividend on the past 6 months business. The stock is $10 above par. We have a surplus of $42,000.


Cold and rough. At the farm to plant some grapes.


Captain Moody's condition turns for the worse. I called on him to discuss the salvation of his soul. Asked Doctors Richards and Senseny to look in on him, but too late. Sent for the undertaker. Wife and two small sons very distressed. I do my best to comfort them.


Snowing hard, already 5 or 6 inches. Called on Mrs. Moody to offer some comfort. Assisted her in making preparations for her trip home with the body. We gave him the last Masonic Service.


Cold. A rumor that the Rebels were again in Mercersburg, and marching upon us. Sent everyone into a stampede of activity, to hide their goods. The rumor proved false. We all feel those at Washington are doing little to protect its citizens. Too much in activity by our military leaders. They seem to not know what to do. The removal of General McClelland of the Army of the Potomac creates some despair.


Visited Colonel Weistling at the camp outside of town. He was much dispirited over contradictory orders and no equipment. Making little headway in training his men.


Beautiful weather.1 How human it seems. He once knew springtime of his life, his autumn years are past, now I am in the winter of my years. How all dies and decays, but to be reborn again.


Winter has now set in, and everyone changes his living habits. This is the time of year that brings families closer together. The great war raging now casts a pall of gloom over it all.


Cold and rough. Feel unwell, very depressed. I need something of a change. At the bank until noon. Came home and gave some directions to Mr. Wilson the artist, who is painting my deceased daughter, Harriet's portrait from a photograph. The war news is bad, mostly from the indecision at Washington. They must play politics first, and then decide the course of their plottings. Much controversy over McClelland being relieved of his command. We feel Lincoln but a tool in his party's hand.


Rough weather. At the bank a few hours. Home to attend to the painting of my daughter, Hattie, it grows with interest as he paints it. A most striking likeness. This work affords me much pleasure. To the farm this afternoon with Mr. Forbes, a barn builder, perhaps in the spring I will put up one.


Moderate weather. Decorated the church for Thanksgiving. The gallery and pillars ornamented with spruce. The pulpit lamps and walk behind the pulpit beautifully ornamented. Two flags handsomely draped in the background. The whole effect enhanced when the gas lights turned on. Our efforts were a huge success in that all were surprised as well as delighted with our arrangements.


Snowing. Spent an hour with Doctor Wilson, the artist, who is doing a piece for a lady in Harrisburg. My old creative feeling came over me and though it is 40 years since I've painted, feel I could paint again.

December 1862

DECEMBER 1, 1862

Cloudy and unpleasant. Visited a few sick friends.


Moderate. Rode out to the camp to see Colonel Mikibbon about payment for straw I furnished. Visited my farm, find one tenant back with his work. The other progressing well. The camp shall move soon, it is not a good influence on our local boys. I remember my associations with camp life in the War of 1812, so know what these young men go thru.2 Everybody feels McClelland's removal a great mistake, even the English newspapers against it.


Cloudy. Army of Potomac resumes the battle, now before Fredericksburg. Visited William Jude, a stocking weaver, to have some made, a very interesting shop and man.

"This afternoon I visited Mr. Jude, an Englishman, who is a stocking weaver by trade. I went for the purpose of having some stockings made. The shop is quite a curiosity in its way. It is not more than six feet square and about six feet high. The door of entrance is so small that stooping is necessary to get in. On the right as you enter in the corner, is his loom, about four feet wide, on the West is a small counter to which is attached a small vise and some other weaving tools, such as boards upon which to stretch and put in shape his stockings. On the South side is his spinning wheel. On the left is his reels and spools with a couple of small boxes, which I observed were locked.

"On entering his shop, I could scarce refrain the laugh. On the seat of his weaving loom lay his daily companion, a yellow striped cat called Peter, who amused himself trying to catch the spool of yarn while he was weaving.

"'How do you do Mr. Heyser. I was wondering if you do not want some stockings. I weave many a pair for you. Come Peter, behave yourself' speaking to the cat. 'I'm just weaving these for a particular old lady, maybe you know her, Mrs. Hare in the Row.' You mean Mrs. McElhare. 'Oh yes, that's her. She's stout.' Could you fit you? 'Oh yes. I told her to show me her foot--faith, said she, will do that and my leg too--if you want to see it. I had no trouble to get her measure.' I said to him you must be happy in your palace here. 'Ah,' said he, 'wool is dreadful high, but if you get me the yarn, I weave then at journeyman's wages, Just 31 cents.'

"The shop is a curiosity--truly it is not the size of the shop or house that makes contentment, this man appears to be satisfied with his lot, and he is in some respects, like his shop--he is small, somewhere about five feet, old, and pretty near worn out. He sits the picture of habit. An old white hat, with the crown knocked in, and from its looks, might have seen twenty summers, adorns his head. His coat and other garments are in keeping with his hat. His pipe would seem to have consumed a vast amount of the weed, his spectacles too, bear the stamp of age. While he stopped his loom to converse with me, his companion, Peter, coiled himself up on his lap to take his rest. A place doubtless much occupied when his master is at work. This little shop has a latch outside and inside, and thus shuts out the world. He is a widower, and although he has children, seems to be alone.

"I feel well compensated for my visit; I have never seen business done in so small a compass."


Cold and stormy, with dashes of snow. Have just heard of the death of John Goteman, a baker by trade and a retailer of ale. After some years, commenced a small grocery establishment. After some years of a successful run of business, amassed considerable property. He was vain of his possessions, having been nicknamed, Rothchild. With his increase of property, he grew in dimensions himself, for he was a great lover of ale. When I last saw him, he was quite disfigured from its use, a perfect bloat. His wife is equally defamed from the same cause. Her face wears the appearance of the full moon, almost twice its usual size and full of blotches. It would seem impossible that human beings could be so disfigured by drink. I am told he is almost a petrified mass, and can scarcely be handled. He is a Lutheran, but paid little attention to the interests of his soul. His son is rapidly following in his foot steps.

Sitting before my comfortable fire, I reflect on the miseries of the world, and the less fortunate which causes me to think of friendships, of which there are very few that are true ones. Let a man become degraded by no fault of his own, and see how few recognize him. But let his prosperity become evident, and he has countless friends.


Cloudy and cold. Feel indisposed, a bad cold, can scarcely talk. The cold penetrates everywhere. Sorry to miss my Bible class. I shall remain at home-meditate and write.


Weather more pleasant. Slept badly last night. My cold still troubles me, cough much. Jeremy Wilson the artist called, we walked up to Jude's establishment as he was anxious to see it. I hadn't noticed before how precarious his chimney was built. Without mortar, and the stove pipe just stuck in. The movements of his loom made it all tremble. Wilson thought it quite a curiosity. Came home feeling the worse for my outing.

The war news tells Fredericksburg has been taken. The Rebels taking up positions behind it. A fearful battle is shaping up. Reflection on the war and governments that control them, and that all lose in the end. The poor victims killed, giving the most.


Beautiful weather. My cold still continues; my breast quite sore from coughing.


Cloudy and rough. Buried John Ligget and James Kirby today. News from Washington very perplexing, opinions so conflicting nothing gets resolved. This war has opened up a system of speculation never seen before. It has turned fine honest men into plunderers of our government. It seems no one is immune from this greed. I believe this war will continue as long as it is profitable for these scavengers.


I notice the windows of our toy shops wear the appearance of approaching Christmas. I leave for Lebanon, Pennsylvania, tomorrow to attend to Church business. This will be the first Christmas ever away from home.


At Lebanon, staying with Mr. Miley, a pleasant family. Conducted family worship.


Pleasant weather. Attended Christmas festival at Rev. Harbaugh's church. Called upon to conduct the services.


Our first day's work on the revision of the Heidleburg Catechism.


Much work on our project, which seems to be going very well. Rev. Harbaugh has three colored boys in his class. Brought back from Virginia as contraband by our volunteers. They came here totally illiterate, now know their letters. Read well and cipher satisfactorily. One has been admitted into the church and the others promising. It was a pleasing sight to see these poor outcasts, far from their native soil pursuing the light of liberty. I hope they do not fall under the influence of many of the debased Africans now filling up our towns.


Snowing. We call a halt to our nearly finished work. I must leave for home, arriving there without accident about five P.M. Bodies of John Oaks and Augustus Howser brought home for burial from Fredericksburg. A large concourse of people present at the depot.

The condition of our government more gloomy than ever. Nearly 70,000 of our soldiers slain, and we are in debt over 700 millions of dollars. We can see no end to this plundering of our resources.

Already the contractors of this war have emptied the treasury. Many of our soldiers going unpaid.


January 1863

JANUARY 1, 1863

Pleasant weather. At the bank, then home to read and write. Town crowded with country people keeping New Year's Day. This day Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. I think it will do more harm than good. Little can be done with it, but to make more enemies.


With increasing years I am losing my relish for society, and becoming more domestic. My loss of hearing, and other infirmities point to my approaching end. Attended prayer meeting at the Methodist Church. The night was dark, cold, and stormy, but services well attended.


Very cold. More reports of war. Death of Liet. Col. Housom of this place. He no doubt was a good soldier, but from my dealings with him, did not admire his character or reliability. The war years profitable to our bank, as our deposits growing. We have a surplus to invest.


We visit the poor, sick, and aged of our congregation. Some very glad to see us. One, a Mrs. Measy, 85 years of age, nearly destitute but of sound mind. Requested that she be buried beside her husband in the churchyard.3


Rapid rise in stocks, much speculation, fortunes will be made, but many will be ruined. An unhappy time for our nation, for it will never be the same again. Greed and power transcends all.


Weather mild. War news bad. Sold my farm to Solomon Brake for $90.00 an acre. A very sudden transaction, being only two hours in the making. He gave me a $1,500.00 note of the County Commissioners, $3,000.00 in gold, and $175.00 in silver, $25.00 in treasury notes, and $100.00 in other paper. I took a judgment note for $5,200.00 on the balance. This was the quickest cash transaction I ever made. I will invest most of it in the Bank of Chambersburg. I feel somewhat sadden selling the family farm, like an old friend departing, but I must relieve myself of some of my burden.


Left home for Philadelphia to attend to Church business. Stayed at the Merchants Hotel on Fourth Street. Large delegation there from all parts of the United States. Next seven days of lengthy discussions.


Weather unsettled. After morning worship, stopped at the Barber's Shop for a shave, there being only about my lips to do, a matter of a few minutes, for I have a full beard. I was charged 60 cents, a rascally sum, the man was totally unashamed to demand it.

Called on Maria Dunlap, living at 17th and Arch Streets. She was an early resident of Chambersburg, coming to Philadelphia with her husband many years ago. He was a lawyer given to drink and bad habits, thus losing his livelihood and now blind. They live with her son-in-law, a Mr. Wilson.

We are bringing to a close, with essays by each of us, on the occasion of this tercentennial of the Heidleburg Catechism. We have our photos taken that I place in my diary at the proper place with their names and city.


Clear. Left for home today. We see the Cumberland Valley locked in the icy fastness of winter. Got home late and found all well. Chatted until late, and to bed.


A pleasant Sabbath. Attended all day to the various duties.


Raining. At home all afternoon writing my diary. Mrs. Geo. Wolff called to have me speak to her husband about his dissipation. I spoke with him, however, the effort must be made by him to end his intemperate ways.

Talk of "winding" up our bank, now that we are in a position to do so. I fear there are some greedy stockholders behind this, more to set up for themselves.


Snowing. The war is going badly. President Lincoln has a fearful account to render to the country and posterity for his unfaithful stewardship. R. Tolbert calls with an old bill of my son, Jacob, who failed in business some years ago. This was news to me, as to why he had not presented it before this. He now demands back interest on the account. He shall be paid, but I shamed him on the unjustness of conducting his business this way. More talk of our bank going out of business. It would be a sore loss to our country. We are in good shape and have very competent officers. These are times that the selfish try and hide their money, which creates chaos in the business world. When public confidence is gone, years of building has been torn down.

February 1863


Had Rev. Feete of Woodstock, Virginia, to dinner. He somehow made his way North with his small son to escape the terrible poverty rife in the valley. His wife had died and sold all personal possessions to buy food and a little clothing. His son wore an old stained army blanket for a coat. All the basic items of living were far beyond his reach. He hopes to find employment here, that he will never return to Virginia.


Out to my farm, my tenant rather distressed that Lincoln's draft plans will take all the men, leaving the females to run things. They are convinced all the real criminals are in Washington, and Lincoln-the ring leader.


Snowing hard. Indoors all day, reading and writing.


Cloudy and damp. Mild evening. The ladies all out for a promenade despite the muddy foot paths. They take their pleasure at the cost of muddy skirts and heels. Some of the more careful lift the outer garment and expose to public gaze every shade and stripe of "Balmoral." They walk until darkness drives them indoors. This is Saturday evening, and they seem to have enjoyed it.


Cloudy. The Sabbath, a day of rest. I shut out all the cares of the business world. Read until late into the night, my family have all retired.

March 1863

MARCH 3, 1863

Great sale of old coins in New York, bringing astounding prices. An 1804 penny brought $36.00. I still have a five dollar gold piece of 1796, the year I was born.


Very cold. Rumors of the draft disturbing everyone. A farm belonging to the Bank was sold for $8,525.00. A valuable farm. The new tax stamp cost $10.00. All the other notes, according to their value, must have stamps.


Still cold. Rode to my farm, my tenant is taking advantage of me in my absence. He cannot account for a fair division of our produce.

Attended a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Academy. John Shryock being its principal. Since the U.S. Government has taken it over for a hospital, Shryock declared bankruptcy. They paid him $800.00. The building is in bad condition.


Damp and unpleasant. Spent time at bank and then to gas works. Attempted to make some wine, but fear it is all ruined, at this business I am not adept.


Very cold. Working on the Hollywell Mill accounts for a settlement to its sale. Received some money from the sale of my farm, a problem what to do with it in these times. There is trouble without money, and trouble with it.


Moderate. Gave my note for 500 dollars to an endowment for Franklin & Marshal College at Lancaster.


Very wet spring. Farmers back with their work, high prices of everything affected by the war. How the poor survive is a mystery to me.


Cloudy and cold. At the bank this morning. On the way was accosted by an old woman in need of wood and flour. I gave her something that made her eye sparkle. "God bless you, Sir," she said as I passed on. How much suffering thought I, is hidden from view.

Nearly all is pain in some form, joy is a fleeting thing and its companion, contentment, just as illusive.


Snowing. This is a bad month so far, all work far behind. At the bank, feel I need more to do. I was unhappy before with too much to do--now I need to resume some responsibility to quiet my active mind. It's too bad our bodies can't keep pace with one's brain. Our farmers upset over the condition of our currency. Whenever they can, exchange their paper for silver and gold.


Sabbath. Still cloudy and cool. Devoted the day to church work.


Cloudy. At the bank. Spent rest of day at home in partial enjoyment. Perplexed why Lincoln keeps McClelland checked when he could shorten the war with his fine talents for military tactics.


At the bank, had a profitable conversation with my son-in- law, J. Allison Eyster, in regard to my son, Jacob's affairs which are in a bad state. He feels, properly managed, the mill shall be able to pay his debts and my advances, I hope so.


As the fortunes of this war ebb and flow, so do the manipulators of our finances make and lose fortunes each day. No thought as to the good of our country, but all for personal greed and advancement. Our poor soldiers are but dispensable pawns in the hands of the fiends in Washington.

Visited Hollywell, the capacity has been increased, and the price, of paper greatly advanced. All due to the demands of war.


Snowing all day. This has been a rough month, farm work behind.


Clear, but still rough. My tenant, Mrs. Noel, giving me trouble. I shall be rid of her soon.

At my farm to help my surveyor. I fear it was too much for me, probably walked 6 miles, overheating my feet and bringing on severe fatigue, showing my age is fast overcoming me.

Arriving home, found Mr. Feete's son there, who I promised to board until he gets a charge. His daughter already here, in bed with a serious pulmonary condition. She may not last long. Also, Maggie in bed with a bad throat, at present, my wife has her hands full.


Rain and snow again. Almost every day this month was such. This holds up all commerce with agriculture. Tomorrow, the first of April will be a busy day with the mornings and renewing of contracts. Miss Feete, our visitor, is gravely ill.

April 1863

APRIL 1, 1863

Pleasant, but cold. Town filling up with people to do business and make contracts for the new year. All is tied to money--it is the real God that people truly worship. It takes more people to hell than to heaven. It makes more miserable than happy. Yet it is necessary to maintain the peace, without a common denominator, all would be chaos.

Several of my tenants have left me, not paying their rent, and leaving the property in a wretched state.


Pleasant. My sick people at home show no improvement.


Very cold. I spend too much time at the bank now that my other duties are ended. Also, I can give better attention to my properties. The war seems to lag, nothing very decisive happening.


Sun shines brightly this morning. My colored man, Proctor, invited me into the yard to hear the sun shout, "William Heyser." These superstitious people believe this happens every Easter Sunday and Monday.


Weather is better. The farmers can now get some crops in. I'm planning on starting a small orchard at my farm. I need to get out more to exercise. Rode out to my farm to see my new tenant. Find my old one has cheated me of much, however, I am to blame for not attending to my own. The weather is changing again, still can't work in my garden.


Weather more agreeable. Had dinner at Doctor Fisher's spent an agreeable two hours. Mr. Bausman was there also. A poor wretch was hung in Hagerstown for the crime of murder. Seems he was a rejected suitor in a love affair, so kills the girl.


Beautiful spring day. Did some business at the bank, and about noon out to my farm. Put in a large strawberry bed, not used to this much exertion-to bed early.


Clear and pleasant. Feel very cheerful, and in tune with nature. God and nature are the same. Spent the morning at the bank, rode out to my farm, a very pleasant ride. Worked in my garden an hour or two.


Raining. Do not feel well today. At home all afternoon reading and writing. The war news still bad. All seems to be one blunder after another. England makes matters worse by encouraging the Rebels, our debt increases. Our leaders are accomplishing nothing, and Lincoln seems paralyzed. We could get in a war with England.


Met Colonel McClure at the bank. He seems to be enjoying life and surrounding himself with all its comforts. He is right, if he can afford it.

Received a letter from Mr. Robert Spring of Baltimore, containing a check with George Washington's signature, dated November 17, 1795. I place it in this book as a curiosity of the owner, and art of the engraver of that time. It is a relic and worth preserving. I paid $_____ for this autograph.4


Cloudy. Rev. Feete and I walked out to son Jacob's place. There in his garden and mill we spent a couple hours. My son- in-law, Allison Eyster, is rapidly getting the place out of debt, however, it may take a year or two before it shows a profit to them. The straw board business is becoming more profitable.


Pleasant. Spent afternoon in the country. All the crops are doing fine. It looks well for a good fall harvest so far. Put in some strawberries, work does not go easy with me now.


On April 1, 1863, myself--William Heyser, and my brother-in-law, Barnard Wolf, presented a set of communion and baptismal service to the church as a token of our deep love and devotion. We do not think this gift out of place as we are the two oldest members left. The consistory acknowledged the reception of so costly and elegantly finished service, with appropriate remarks for the donors.


REFLECTIONS on my father and mother. She was the most kind and affectionate person I've ever known. I was her only son, and of course, held a special place in her life. We took pleasure in small things to please each other. She was in delicate health the last few years of her life. I'll always miss her. My father thought I was the apple of his eye. He was always kind to me, and looked after my interests. During the last years of his life, lived on the farm with me. The last six months of his life was confined to his room and bed. I spent much time with him, resting in a large chair by his side, that I might attend him, I was all he had and gave him all the comfort that I could. He loved to gaze out the windows, in different directions, to drink in the beauty of the world he was about to leave. I was extremely fortunate to have been blessed with exceptional parents. They are much in my thoughts today.

Attended prayer meeting in the home of Richard Woods, who lives out on New England Hill, as it is familiarly called.


Beautiful day. Out to my farm with my colored man, Proctor, to set out some fruit trees. I am tired, doubt if I will see their fruit, but others will.


Clear and bright. Went again to the farm, this morning, put in some corn and potatoes. Also put up some bird boxes. I am fond of their presence and music, and useful to keeping off insects. They add charm to a country place.

At home in the evening, reading and writing. The war news is a bit encouraging.


Cloudy. Indications of rain. Won't go to the farm today. Had a meeting at my house of the Board of Trustees of the Theological Seminary with a view to investing some funds in their treasury.

Attended a lecture at the Church, where I was accosted by a man I did not know. He proved to be George Rawhauser, a young man who left here years ago and now shows signs of age. I am rapidly increasing in years, soon I will be among the past.

May 1863

MAY 1, 1863

Beautiful day. To the farm where I spent a very pleasant day, working and reflecting on the past when my Mother and Father lived here. Several friends would visit us. Now all are gone.


Fine weather. Time for the election of our boro officers and school directors. How indifferent are the interests of our more sober and staid citizens. Not one applying for school director could ask a simple intelligent question regarding education. And those that would levy and expend our funds can't conduct their own business.


Rain. Our bank declares a dividend of 5% on its profits these past six months, leaving a surplus of $9,000.00. Most of this came by interest on money we have loaned out.

MAY 14

Left home this morning with Rev. Bausman and Fisher for Martinsburg in Huntingdon County to attend a meeting of classes. We traversed some beautiful mountain country with stately stands of trees. The vegetation is lush, and as far as eye can see, an unending verdant carpet and canopy of the forest. How simple a life can people live here, free to many city temptations and illnesses.

What a magnificent view we had from the top of the mountain. A great panorama stretched out before us, McConnels Cove, and turning, a view of the Cumberland Valley. Now it impresses the heart and mind, we could scarce tear ourselves away.

Descending, we took dinner in McConnellsburg, and made our way to Sideling Hill at McEvanes. A change in the temperature is greatly noticed. People had large fires burning in their hearths, which made it pleasant indoors. Our party consisted of Dr. Schneck, Dr. Fisher, Rev. Bausman, J.J. Brown, John Rebo, H. Detricks, and T.J. Apple, Elder William Heyser, William Bopart, Daniel Miller, James Cook, and David Berger, making quite a company. The evening passed pleasantly, before retiring, all assembled in the main room with the landlord and his family, who took devotional services with us.

After an excellent breakfast, we prepared to pursue our journey. I was very much vexed that we did not have morning prayers before departing. We passed Sideling Hill and approached Bloody Run, where we briefly rested. Here the road runs parallel with the Juniata River. The banks are covered with splendid hemlocks and spruce. Here we take the road to Pattonsville. The Yellow Creek takes its course through excellent scenery of rocks and trees, whose nature have been unchanged these thousands of years. A most delightful and romantic spot. I could dwell here some time on its beauties.

At Pattonsville, we could find no accommodations at the Inn, being a small mean place. A worthy citizen, noting our plight, invited us to dine with him. An enjoyable experience. He was a Mr. Dietrick, a Methodist.

Leaving here, we passed through Harrisonville, arriving about five o'clock at Martinsburg. This section of Morrison's Cove is a most fertile and beautiful section of the county, Martinsburg occupying the center of it. The people here are very hospitable and intelligent. Their houses are neat and well furnished. Fashion is beginning to make inroads on the backward way of life, among the Dunkard Sect, which is predominant. The younger generation has set in motion ideas that will change these crude notions about peculiar methods of life. Already we see much of this in evidence.

We welcomed the rest of our members as they arrived, and started our exercises. Rev. Bausman preached the opening discourse.

MAY 16

Our exercises continue, all members contributing. The Tereentenary is quite a success, all members do well. I was much congratulated on my efforts by the resident Pastor here.

MAY 18

Morning is quite cool. Fire is agreeable. We meet to agree on some debatable issues of our procedures the next few days. Isaac Rhodes invited us to dinner at his place, a beautiful farm about 2 l/2 miles from Martinsburg. On the adjoining farm, the yearly meeting of the Dunkards is to be held, some 8 to 10 thousand will attend. Vast preparations are being made. They will come from all sections of America and Canada.

A meeting in the evening of our missionary societies. Much discussion of various view points as to how we administer our decisions.

MAY 19

Cool. We are bringing our classes to a close here, after electing several groups for the different Synods to meet next year. Even here, we have petty politics among religious groups to vie for honors to represent their views of ideas. I was much honored and congratulated on my writings and method of conducting prayer services, often mistaken for one of the clergy. Why did the Lord choose the business world for me, when I was better fitted for the church?

MAY 20

Clear and warm. We leave for home by the same route. Stopped in Pattonsville where we had dinner with our former friends. Proceeded to Bloody Run, where we watered and then to Mackelwanes, where we put up for the night, first having a good meal, and then religious exercises before retiring. Schneck and myself fortunate in getting the same room. Bausman and Apple roomed together in the same bed. Had quite a cat accident about midnight. A loud scratching and thumping awakened them, the noise coming from a nearby cupboard. Opening it, a howling cat jumped out, which ran under their bed where it discharged its bowels creating a horrible stench. Apple could scarce retain his stomach. Got up, lit a match, but no other place to sleep. Finally turned the mouth of the chamber pot upon it, so got through till morning. The incident created a hearty laugh in the morning.

MAY 21

Clear and warm. Had breakfast and services, and so departed. On Scrub Ridge, we came upon an old stager who had planted himself in the center of the road, tying up some seven carriages. We all finally got by, very fortunate there were no females in the company.

The rest of the way was dusty and hot. Had dinner at Mullins, at the foot of Parnells Knob. Rested awhile and proceeded home, arriving about six. Glad to find myself home again.

MAY 23

Warm and dry. Great preparations being made in town to receive the 126th Regiment, the nine months men from this county. Reception marred by the huge clouds of dust. Huge crowds of people passing back and forth, until late in the evening.

MAY 25

Cloudy. Awakened by the pealing of all the bells in town. The chimes were a blend of all the different tones, a most delightful sound. It was occasioned by the fall of Vicksburg. The streets filled with excited and anxious men. But this war is far from over, our debt is increasing at the rate of 2 1/2 millions of dollars a day. Where will we all end.

MAY 26

A young soldier, by the name of Henderson, one of our provost guards, was thrown from his horse last night and dragged to his death. It seems he and a friend were racing on the turnpike, he attempted to jump over a cow that was laying in his way, but at the critical moment rose up, throwing the young man's horse, which dragged him a short distance. He never rallied, and thus passed into eternity. He is of respectable parents living in Baltimore, who will be called to mourn over the death of a wayward son.

Talk of re-electing Lincoln for our next President. I do not feel his re-election is possible, after all his failures so far. He has not the ability of statesmanship to wield the destinies of our government. When this conflict is over, we will need a most able man to solve larger problems, than we have now--particularly those of the African race.

MAY 27

Warm. Our house is very quiet today, with all the children away visiting. Time for reflection and silent communion with those we knew-gone forever. How much of our past life was good or profitable, and how much was wasted. Have we done our best and how wisely? How little influence does one life have on the great stream of civilization, as it gushes onward. So it now is evident in Washington. With all this attention on President making, rather than the interests of the country. Stanton, Chase, and Seward are busy laying the hopes for their chances of occupying the White House. I think all three are destined for defeat.

MAY 30

Decorating the church for Sunday's celebration of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Death of Rev. Feete's daughter. She will be interred tomorrow at six in the evening. Rev. Feete has lost his last remaining comfort. Without a charge, means, and dependent on friends, his situation can well call forth all the sympathy of those that know him.

June 1863

JUNE 1, 1863

Clear but windy. I rise early, but feel drowsy. I overtaxed myself yesterday. Age is laying its heavy hand on me, as my increasing years tax my vigor. I find myself reflecting on the past too much, this is not good, yet it affords me pleasure that I made some small accomplishments in the various departments of life.

Death of old Mrs. Caesman, a German, died milking her cow. She was a vender of fruits in season, a cheerful woman, but poor. Was quite a fixture in our town, and will be missed.


Clear but windy. To my farm to work in my garden, the weeds are making rapid progress. Weeds are like sin, always giving trouble, and hard to exterminate. Worked all day and now am stiff and tired. Work goes hard with me. This evening assisted Rev. Dyson with a selection of books, for his library; read the news, and then to bed.


Cloudy, appearance of rain. A letter from A.B. Wingerd of Greencastle, that he may have a horse to my liking.

I am somewhat annoyed with thoughts and feelings that were unpleasant to me. I endeavor to banish them, the temptation came in every form--this is a world of trial in its most favored aspect. There is always something to trouble and annoy.


Pleasant. At the bank a few hours. Am preparing an article for the Messinger. Rode with Messersmith into the country to see a horse. We ate strawberries and cream, finished my article.


A visit to my mountain land. I never tire of going there, as each visit presents a new picture. I can sit here for hours listening to nature's symphony and watching the ever changing life on its stage. I return home late in the evening, stay in reading and writing.


Cold the past few days. Made fire and it felt comfortable. To the bank a few hours, spent the rest of the day at home reading and writing.

Colonel McClure received a dispatch that we might be subject to a raid soon. The bank has sent its most valuable papers off to Philadelphia for safe keeping. Nothing has been confirmed to the Rebels positions south of us, but speculation is rife and everyone uneasy.


Cloudy. B. Wolff and myself spent a couple hours in the Lutheran graveyard where an interment was being made. This churchyard is in much disarray and scattered about. Many of the graves are lost through negligence of friends and the church. Part of John Maderia's family is in one place, and part in another. A Mr. Humphrie's lay beside Mary Maderia, then John Maderia. Then a stone with the inscription, "Our Sister". This was Catherine Maderia, one of their daughters who was a little backward, and received little attention from the family. She was kept out of society and led a life with the servants. I knew her well in my boyhood days by the name of Kit. I believe the sin of this injustice was visited upon the rest of the family, for none of them prospered in life. Reading her epitaph finds only the word Sister, someone who knew her history wrote beneath in pencil, "When my Father and Mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up." May she have that rest beyond this life, which was denied in this.

This evening attended a meeting of the lodge where some degrees were confirmed by strangers from New York. Remained until about ten, then home.


To my mountain land. Found my man has done little work. The ride is beautiful and enjoyed my walk up through the glade, a most delightful spot, full of nature's beauty. It is an hour and a half ride home. Feel greatly relieved from my anxieties, taking this little excursion. Rain all evening. More talk of an impending invasion of our valley.


Clear and unpleasant. Reports of an engagement near Winchester. Our town in an uproar. Government property being loaded up and taken away. The drum calls for volunteers.

All the army stores have been packed up and sent to Philadelphia. Little attendance at church and Sabbath School. Much of the news is false we hear, but it serves to upset the people. We all feel Pennsylvania will be invaded. Many families are hiding their valuables, and preparing for the worst. Some preparing to leave town. Tonight we have many sleepless eyes, the houses all shut up tightly, but the inmates astir.

The stores are packing up their goods and sending them off, people are running to and fro. Cashier Messersmith is sent off with the books of the bank and its valuables. The cars are crowded to utmost capacity. The colored people are flying in all directions. There is a complete state of confusion.

After twelve we got word the Rebels have entered Hagerstown. The stores are all closed, and the streets crowded with those that can't leave. I am urged to leave. As President of the bank, might be held responsible for its assets, which I doubt, anyhow I shall stay to defend my property best I can.

At 8 o'clock a number of contrabands entered our town, fleeing from Martinsburg with the Rebels not far behind. These were followed by a wagon train, many on three wheels, and less being dragged and pushed as fast as possible. The street is crowded with horses and wagons, all in the wildest state of confusion. Upon asking one of them as to their plight, said the Rebels are not far behind.

Suddenly about two hundred more wagons, horses, mules, and contrabands all came pouring down the street in full flight. Some of them hollering the Rebels are behind us. Such a sight I have never seen, or will never see again. The whole town is on the sidewalks screaming, crying, and running about. They know not where.

The road into town is almost impassable by the teamsters cutting loose their wagons and fleeing with their horses. This further jammed up our town, some of the horses fall in the streets from sheer exhaustion. One soldier was killed by the fall. After the panic subdues, the teamsters that had cut loose their wagons went back for them. At twelve the excitement is beyond conception. I am again urged to leave. Mr. T.B. Kennedy sent me a message, feeling it was a good idea. I have consented against my will-packing up my valuable papers and at two, left with Mrs. Heyser in my buggy, for Carlisle, committing the house to William, Proctor my colored man, and girl. After I left they did not stay, but put off for the mountains. Had difficulty passing the wagon jam on the road and answering questions, arriving at Stoughs town about 6 in the evening, where I shall wait for news.

About midnight, awakened by the news that the Rebels were at Shippensburg. Dressing, we immediately left for Carlisle at midnight, being so dark and the roads jammed with wagons, made dangerous situation that I regretted leaving home in the first place. However, thanks to Almighty Providence, we arrived safely in Carlisle about 4 o'clock in the morning. Tried to get more sleep, but impossible, excitement here is mounting.

We got a bite to eat, the horse fed, and left for Harrisburg. All along the way the news had preceded us, people out securing and leaving with their goods. Driving away their horses, and all shops shut up.

Stopped in Mechanicsburg, a prosperous, but now excited town, to learn of fortifications being made for Harrisburg. We were advised to stay here, but decided to press on. On approaching Harrisburg, I could see the fortifications with a large number of men working on them. The railroad cars were filled with troops on their way to Chambersburg with artillery.

We crossed the river without difficulty and found Harrisburg, in wildest confusion. Merchants shipping away their goods, families their furniture, and people fleeing in all directions. Almost laughable scenes some created.

Stopped at Harris's Hotel. See few females, mostly men moving furniture and stores, the streets are almost impassable. The excitement is greater than Chambersburg. All the records of the state have been removed under the expectation that Harrisburg will be burned. Our state is doing nothing to defend itself against invasion. Governor Curtain seems to be paralyzed and unable to act. We need decisions badly, and can't expect them from Washington.


Very warm. The city is filling with volunteers and delegates to the Democratic Convention. Rumors from Chambersburg that our ships and stores have all been plundered and that the public building may be burned that houses army stores. Appeals made to the Governor for troops to protect the state, but unheeded.

My son-in-law, J.A. Eyster, came this afternoon from Philadelphia. Reports my daughter, Elizabeth and the children well. News that the Rebels have left for Hagerstown, after having done a minimum of damage to the town.


Warm. The Rebels have left Chambersburg taking with them about 250 colored people again into bondage. Governor Curtin is presently very unpopular. Left Harrisburg for home about two o'clock, in the afternoon, by way of the turnpike. Traveling through very beautiful and fertile countryside. Had tea in Carlisle, pressed on for Stoughs town to spend the night. Here we encountered many colored people fleeing the Rebels, as not all have left the area. These poor people are completely worn out, carrying their families on their backs. Saw some twenty from Chambersburg that I recognized. Some men from Shippensburg urged us to turn back, that danger was not past, but we decided to press on, even though the night was black, stormy, and the road dangerous. We were glad to see the lamps of Carlisle. Little did we know of the perils that had been in our way, Almighty Providence led us through safely. It will be a journey my wife and I will never forget. I suggested she write a book about our adventurous journey. Weary and tired, we went to bed.


Pleasant, heavy rain through the night. Much rumor-one knows not what to believe. All is still alarm. The stores are still all closed and business at a standstill. Unexpectedly met my man, Proctor, who had made for the mountains, worked his way to Newville from where he got to Carlisle. Of Fanny, our colored girl, he knew nothing.

The papers are now calling for McClelland's recall. Without him we cannot succeed.

Troops are coming in from neighboring states to support our few that we can bring some order to our situation. It is ridiculous that 800 Rebel troops can paralyze the Southern portion of our state without opposition. This invasion had been expected for months, and totally ignored by our government.


Cloudy. Left for Shippensburg where we found things much in panic as before. Large stampedes of men and horses from all parts of the country. Dreadful accounts that the Rebels are still active about Chambersburg, and are robbing and stealing as before. How much of this is true, I cannot say as in times as these, exaggeration is rife. Each small episode is magnified a thousand times.

Decided to stay over night in Shippensburg. Rained very hard. The town is packed with people. I luckily found a bed for my wife and I. A New York regiment stopped here very disgusted as they had yet to see a Pennsylvania Company on the job. One I talked with said, "Damn your State, we came here to protect it, where are your Pennsylvania soldiers!" If they don't soon appear, we shall go home.


Cloudy. Rose early, about four, to get an early start. Road almost deserted. The New York Regiment encamped a short distance from Shippensburg, along the road. Arrived at home little after six, found my house still, silent, and musty. I never felt so lonely, sitting in my own house without anything to eat and no one about. Mrs. Fisher invited us over to have breakfast, a kindness we shall not forget. Never again, under any circumstances, shall I leave my home again. Just about Sabbath School time, the town thrown into another state of confusion, that a column of Rebels were advancing. This proved to be just a poor man leading a few horses in town from his farm. So it goes, what is fact and fancy, we continued with our worship, the excitement subsided.

In the evening, troops came in from New York for our protection. Reports that the Rebels are in Greencastle. I feel certain that Lee will bring his army into Pennsylvania.


Clear. Troops arriving from Harrisburg. Four Dalgreen pieces of ordinance arrive and taken out to the end of town to be set up. The citizens have formed a few companies for defense, but how effective could they be?

More troops have arrived, perhaps a thousand here now. We breathe a little easier.

Our hopes are short lived. The troops have all been recalled to Shippensburg, the small battery is run out of town. Excitement is again intense in town.

A meeting is held of prominent men, to face the enemy, if they should come and surrender the town on the best terms we can get. Again there is a general stampede to leave town with valuables. The road to Shippensburg is again packed with fleeing citizens. There is not a Negro to be seen in town. At 11 o'clock, the streets are deserted. I did not go to bed until about one. All is quiet, but it is a sleepless town.


Clear. Rose early. A small local cavalry force rode out, but soon returned. Wagons were sent out to secure the tents and baggage the New York volunteers left behind in their flight to Shippensburg.

Our squads of cavalry are leaving, a bad sign. We soon find out as we make our observations behind drawn shutters. A large squad was seen advancing at the German Reformed Church, coming down the street, filling the whole space, moving at a slow pace, their guns in position, ready for instant firing in case of attack. About 300 entered the town as cavalry, the others took up positions in fields in sight of town. Those entering proceeded to the public square where they immediately cut down the telegraph wires at all points. After this they placed pickets at all points to prevent surprise.

Our Committee met them and given to understand private property would be respected, but they were to furnish provisions for 1,500 men. The Rebels behave very well. Not a citizen molested or a house visited. We complied very well with their demands.

This afternoon they opened the warehouse of J. Allison Eyster, and made off with $4,000.00 worth of bacon, salt, beans, coffee, crackers, etc. They also opened the warehouse of Oaks & Linn, and took almost 300 barrels of flour belonging to Jacob Stouffer. They broke in the heads of 20 barrels of whiskey, which they poured out. At Miller's Drug Store, they poured a barrel of brandy into the gutter. Captain Fitzhugh gave orders that if any of his men were caught molesting a citizen, they would be severely punished. I must admit they were a thoroughly disciplined lot of men.

About 4 o'clock they moved towards Shippensburg, leaving a guard on the wagons behind. At 9 they returned with their artillery to their camp at the South end of town. We don't understand their plans. Neither do we understand why the State hoards all those soldiers about Harrisburg, leaving the Southern portion to the invaders.


Clear. The Rebels are active. They have closely kept plans, something is afoot. I was notified that a meeting with the principal citizens was requested to hear their demands.

5,000 Suits of clothing, boots, hats
100 Good saddles
100 Good bridles
5,000 Bushels grain
10,000 lbs. Sole Leather
10,000 lbs. Horse Shoes
400 lbs. Horse shoe nails by 6 o'clock.
John A. Hammond
Major and Chief Quartermaster

600 lbs. Lead
10,000 lbs. Harness Leather
50 boxes Tinplate
2,000 lbs. Picket Rope
All the caps and powder in the town; also, all the oil--by 3 o'clock.
William Allen
Major & Chief Ord. Deputy

50,000 lbs. Bread
100 sacks Salt
30 lb. Molasses
500 barrels Flour
25 barrels Vinegar
25 barrels Dried Fruit
25 barrels Beans
25 barrels potatoes
25 barrels Sauerkraut
11,000 lbs. Coffee
10,000 lbs. Sugar
100,000 lbs. Hard Bread--by 2 o'clock.
W.L. Hauks
Major Com

We stated that they already had nearly all these things, there being nothing left to do but strip us all of everything. About 9 o'clock Ewell's corps passed through, probably some 10,000 men with an immense train of artillery and army wagons. Among them many farm wagons and teams they acquired along the way.

The men looked well, but lacked uniforms, being an array of all shades and colors. No two hats alike, and their shoes could hardly be called that. It was hard to distinguish the officers from the men, except those of high rank. They sang and cheered lustily as they marched along. About two, the pillage of our stores began. Not a place escaped, never in the history of our boro was there such a scene. The merchants were compelled to pack up the wagons with their goods, which is being sent to Richmond.

The streets are crowded with Rebels who try to interrogate our lesser citizens as to where things are hidden or sent to, and also as to the movements of the Federal troops that had left. By now, all of our stores have been ransacked.

My neighbor, Widow Murphy, who kept a small store, dispensing Queens Ware and shoes, nothing of value to the Rebels, did succeed in having her place exempt from being robbed. Some of the Rebel officers were very considerate.

My son's mill and warehouse has suffered much from confiscation for which they gave him $800.00 in Confederate script.

I hear my tenant farmer, Thomas Miller, was shot at while plowing his corn. I have felt much concern for him, but cannot get through the line.


Clear and warm. All quiet until about 9 o'clock when the locusts begin to swarm again. On each side of the street, they stop and make further requisitions. There isn't much left to take.

All businessmen suffer--Eyster brothers, Myers and Brand, Huber and Tolbert, Sol. Huber, Gelwix, James Shaffer, D.S. Fahnestock, Dittmann, Metcalf, I. Hutton, James Hutton, Feltman, Croft and Miller, W. Heyser, Miller and Hemsley, Nixon, these were the principal losers.

This afternoon brings much activity among the Rebels. Evidently new orders have been directed as they are packing up and securing their stolen goods as fast as possible. Officers are riding off in all directions.

At seven, we have reports of a skirmish near Carlisle driving back the Rebels. Jenkins, Ewell, and Rhodes have returned to Chambersburg with the intention of crossing over to Gettysburg. The drums beat-calling their men to camp and hunting the stragglers. All indications point to readiness for a march.

Tonight there is not a Rebel to be seen. We are not sure what caused the move, we do know large forces were now built up in Harrisburg, ready to march South. McClelland is supposed to be there, but so far Washington refuses to use him, politics being behind this. With his skill and knowledge, the war could have been ended, but the power in Washington will not admit him.

The streets tonight are deserted and still. Not a soldier to be seen except the posted sentinels. I remained up until one.


Cloudy and raining. All is quiet. Few soldiers seen on the streets until after breakfast, when the advancing corps of Gen. Johnston appears with waving flags and stirring music, as they approach the public square. Three cheers went up for the Southern Confederacy. They passed on column after column, for hours. Next their batteries, army wagons, and ambulances, presenting a fearful sight. I have mixed feelings of indignation and humility. The passage of the army created a consternation among the people. Many feel all is lost, after seeing this show of power in the face of our inadequate defense.

At about three o'clock, the rear of Johnston's corps is passed, making about 15,000 men, rank and file, 72 pieces of ordinance, 350 wagons, about a regiment is left to guard the town. The large school building has been taken by them for a hospital.

Requisitions have been made on all the innkeepers for mattresses, blankets, quilts, sheets, etc. for the Rebel sick and wounded. It is expected the like orders will be given the citizens.

This evening a part of their army has advanced near the town on the Baltimore Pike, and on the Western Pike, occupying the fairground.

They say they have entered upon a desperate enterprise, and will make Pennsylvania the battleground, instead of Virginia, that they will conquer or die! All say the heaviest battle of the war will be fought in this Valley. We all tremble as we have no news from the outside, being completely cut off.

Portions of the Cumberland Valley and Franklin Railroads have been torn up. The bridge at Scotland, just rebuilt, has again been demolished.


The Rebel troops commence their forward movement and continue without interruption until dark. We estimate by actual count nearly 35,000 men, officers and all, 165 pieces ordinance. I notice many of the gun carriages had the U.S. mark upon them, having been captured from our army.

About 11 o'clock General Lee passed with his staff. He is fine looking man, medium size, stoutly built, has the face of a good liver, grey beard, and mustache, poorly dressed for an officer of his grade. He wore a felt hat, black, and a heavy overcoat with large cape. His horse appeared to be rather an indifferent one, for a man who reputedly is fond of fine stock.

Hill is a tall red-headed man, not over thirty-five. Longstreet and Ewell I did not see, nor Johnston. Many of the officers were fine looking men, and rode fine horses.

During their passage, I noticed their ever watchfulness on every side. The citizens were crowded along the sidewalks and doors, observing their passage; the rest, inside, behind drawn blinds, watched unobtrusively. There were many remarks and exclamations, but all in a subdued tone of voice or whisper. All had one thought in mind, "Were these soldiers to be our conquerors, and if so, what will be our fate?"

Occasionally a German would stop me and complain in his native tongue, as if I could help this situation, or was responsible for it.5

Lee offered to place a guard for the protection of the town, but the sheriff could not be found. Later in the day, General Hill and Longstreet passed through with part of their army. They were far less respectable lot, and constantly shouting, singing, and hooting at females that showed themselves at doors or windows. They were loud in their denunciation of the Union, and insulting to citizens on the sidewalks. Shouting, "Boys, this is Pennsylvania. We should destroy her as they did in Virginia, damn the Union. Harrisburg will be ours, Hurrah for the Southern Confederacy, and Jeff Davis."

Every brigade as it passed sent a file of soldiers around to examine the stores and places of business, requiring them to open up. This continued all day. These men were called the Louisiana Tigers, a forbidding- looking set of men that would take your hat or remove your boots for their own use.

Rev. Schneck was relieved of his gold watch and $50.00. He complained to get it back, but to no use. Robberies are now common on the street, particularly where they are unguarded.

Decharts hat store was cleaned out today, not a single item left in stock. They opened up my son, William's store today, and started to help themselves. We are powerless to stop them, and can do nothing but watch and complain to the commanding officers. They refer to the same treatment our soldiers gave the Confederacy in Virginia.

I finally found a Colonel Greene that listened to some reason and had the men removed and the door shut.

While the troops were passing today, I was sitting by my door, the victim of many insulting remarks. One even attempted to take my hat. He withdrew when I offered to resist, as I would have struck him. Were it not for the rigid discipline they were under, I shudder to think what our lot would have been. There are exceptions, many of the Rebels are gentlemen, and act as such. Mostly, those from Florida, Texas, and Louisiana, generally speaking, are a band of cutthroats.


Cloudy. The troops are moving through town again, a continual procession until evening. The drug store of J. Spangler was visited today by Lieut. Todd, President Lincoln's wife's brother. He finally had to be ejected by the provost marshal as having no business being there. Reports come in our neighboring farmers are being robbed, one being shot. Many of these robberies are committed by vagabonds or camp followers in search of booty. The Rebels try to check them, but can't catch them all. One farmer was shot and the body hid in the manure pile. These robbers are mostly after money. The poor farmers are defenseless.

All of business places are pretty well stripped, all that is left now are the private houses to be broken into.

Up to this evening, the whole number of troops passing through Chambersburg is about 43,000; 180 pieces artillery, 3,000 wagons and ambulances. Indications seem to be they are about to leave Chambersburg. It is now 11 o'clock, my mind is weary, sad, and gloomy. So much I cannot even form an opinion.


Cloudy. Streets are clear until about eight. My son, Jacob, meets Robert Reynolds of Georgia. I knew his father well. Robert had his own horse and servant along. He is a conscript, wish I could have talked with him.

Fearful outrages in the country about us. I hear the Rebels mail has been cut off from Richmond. They are apprehensive of trouble.

Stouffer's mill has been taken over by the Rebels and is running for their use. There isn't much food left in town now. If the Rebels remain much longer, I do not know what we shall do. The country side is rapidly losing all its livestock. Much had already been driven off and hidden in the mountains.

About 4 o'clock, about 5,000 men took up their line of march for Greencastle with 18 pieces of ordinance. I think they are clearing their lines to get their wagon trains back into Virginia. They are now riding about our alleys looking for harness and gear. I removed the wheel from my wagon and hid it, making it unfit for use.

About the close of the evening, they are busy tearing up the sills of the railroad and burning them to bend the rails over, making them unfit to use.


Variable weather. Sunshine and rain. A large wagon train today takes its course towards Gettysburg. Lee's headquarters are still here. He keeps his troops in constant movement that it is hard to say what he is planning for his principal move.

About 9 o'clock a large train of wagons are withdrawn from the direction of Harrisburg, and put on the line of march for Gettysburg. It took 4 hours for the line to pass here. The troops are busy destroying the Franklin Railroad at both North and South ends of the County. Along with sills of the road, they pile on all the fence they can find to heat and twist the rails.

Another force of about 500 men have been sent to destroy the railroad depot and buildings, starting with the large turntable. It is so soundly built of iron castings, their fires had little effect on it. The engine house was pulled down after an immense amount of work. So they went from building to building, a senseless thing to do, as the structures were of no importance to us as we could not use them. I tried to reason with a nearby officer about the wanton destruction. Their answers are always the same, "This is in retaliation for your troops' work on the South, particularly Fredericksburg."

Leaving this scene of destruction, which appears to be their last act. I went up to the belfry of the German Reformed Church to see if I could trace any damage to my farm, but could not, so much timberland intervening. You could mark the line of the railroad by the smoke of the burning ties. From what I can see, there is little damage to crops and grassland.

This evening, there is much activity. Troops are withdrawn from all parts to march to Gettysburg. Reports that already there has been an engagement at Cashtown. Their cooks are busy preparing rations for the next few days.

July 1863

JULY 2, 1863

Cloudy and very hot. The Rebels are leaving Chambersburg for Gettysburg. About 3 this morning, I was awakened by the rumbling of heavy wagons. There were about 60 of them, followed by a large body of troops, requiring about two hours to pass. They were quite jubilant in their passage thru town, pulling my bell at the door and hooting at me.

After their passage, all was quiet again, except squads of cavalry passing to unite with their companies, all in the direction of Gettysburg. Somewhere near there is a heavy engagement. About ten, the town is vacant. The Rebels leaving their sick behind for us to nurse and care for. A few stragglers are to be seen, but the worst is over. We congratulate ourselves that we still have a roof over our heads. About 12, in the company of two other men, I walked out to my farm to assess the damage. Everywhere were holes cut in fences and grain trampled down by the exercises of the cavalry. I sustained a great amount of damage, nearly 4,000 men have encamped here. All of my fence gone, about 40 acres of oats and much damage to all other crops. My houses were all robbed of clothing and any kind of gear with which to work. The report was circulated that I was a Colonel in the Union Army and now made to pay greater than my neighbors. How unjust even your supposed friends can be. In passing over the fields and woods where they encamped, there is already a great stench.

I found two Rebels hiding on my farm and would have taken them back to town. They would have been willing prisoners to obtain their parole, but a large body of Stewarts' cavalry was passing near and I advised them to hide. One gave me his bayonet, which I brought back to town. Back home, more reports come in of a battle near Gettysburg. All night long, more troops pass through town, their yelling is terrific. I keep indoors.


Very hot. Our streets are deserted. An occasional Rebel is seen, just a few stragglers. A Rebel soldier riding up Market Street was fired upon by William Etter, one of our citizens. We feared a reprisal for this sort of thing and put a stop to it. We see more and more deserters. The town being clear of Rebels, the doors are opening again to promenading females. Nothing can stop them, many of them show little respect for their character and standing. They expose themselves, as if intentional, to be out late at night unprotected.


Showers of rain. Reports of terrible fighting at Gettysburg. Captures are being made all around here of Rebel cavalry and infantry which are sent to Harrisburg, their horses and guns being confiscated. The country people are coming in now with their marketing with terrible accounts of outrages that were committed upon them. We were fortunate that the Rebel officers were mostly gentlemen, and tried to hold their savage troops in check, but many could not. I suppose we are fortunate to be alive.

Ewell is at Carlisle and demands its surrender, throwing some 40 shells into town, which did little damage. They burned the gas works where the Carlisle Deposit Bank had hidden its records, now gone. General Smith appeared and Ewell fell back towards Gettysburg. We hear of a great battle at Gettysburg, but as yet no particulars, except the Union forces were victorious. Some public spirited citizens seized the mail (Rebel mail) going thru Fayetteville. Soon a detachment of cavalry was back looking for it, and took 18 prisoners locally for some hours before releasing them; on pain of death if it happens again.


Much rain. About three, 12 wagons of wounded from Gettysburg were routed by mistake through our town, leaving them here at our hospital, a wonder they were alive, thrown in heaps in rough wagons. The wagons were captured by John W. Taylor and sent to Carlisle. This is the Sabbath, all is calm and still. Few persons on the streets.

I notice that most of our birds have gone since the appearance of the Rebels, and that flies and insects are more numerous.

Only 5 persons attended prayer meeting. About 6, part of Gen. Milroy's cavalry of about 300 passed thru town at full speed brandishing their swords and responding to the cheers of many spectators. They rode South in the direction of Greencastle. No word yet from Gettysburg.


Cloudy. General Milroy was dispatched to Greencastle to protect a large wagon train. We hear a decisive battle was fought at Gettysburg. That Lee is withdrawn towards the Potomac and that enormous amounts of supplies and prisoners have been captured. The news gave rise to the ringing of bells and general convivial in the streets. It appears the contest raged for 3 days and was the most desperate of the war. As Lee withdraws towards the Potomac, we hear of skirmishes along the way. One over near Waynesboro and Smithburg. Reports that the Pine Stump Road is filled with broken Rebel wagons and caissons, filled with ammunition much of which is thrown in the mud with a view of destroying it. Also many dead and wounded lying by the roadside, indicating a hasty retreat.

There is a report the Rebels are forming at Marion to meet Pleasanter's cavalry which is expected to attack them. Also it is said a cannon was found buried by the Rebels near the place on the roadside.

I met Doctor Gamble today. The Surgeon Rebel in charge of the hospital here. He tells me most of the best men of the South were in this battle, now most of them gone.


Much rain. The grain is in danger of spoiling. About 200 Rebel prisoners were brought in today. Many are deserting, Lee is making a desperate attempt to escape Mead's army. Our stores are reopening and cleaning up.

General Couch's division is following the end of Lee's army through Greenwood on what is called the Pine Stump Road. We are hoping Lee's army will be captured. If Mead allows him to escape, it will indeed be folly.

We hear the Rebel lose at Gettysburg 30,000 men, the Union 20,000. My sons, Jacob and William, just returned from the battlefield. It is a fearful sight. The fields full of dead, by all the roadsides dead are hardly covered by a thin layer of mud. Wreckage everywhere, the implements of war fast disappearing by souvenir seekers. Soon the cultivators plow will cover it all and put an end to military glory.

If Lee is allowed to escape this struggle will be prolonged. We hear of only skirmishes all along his route to the Potomac.


Much rain. General Couch is raising more men at Harrisburg with a view to following Lee. We hear Lee's army is crossing at Williamsport. Our town is quiet now, a few straggling soldiers to be seen. They now attract little attention. I feel very unwell this evening.


Awoke with all the bells ringing, report confirmed that Vicksburg has been taken. I have kept to my room most of the day. Some companies of New York cavalry and infantry creating a disturbance by their drunkenness. We saw none of this among the Rebels.

Reports that Lee is using the canal boats at Williamsport to ford his sick and wounded. Our town is now stirring with activity again. Many who left are returning and the stores re- opening with what they have left. The night closes in quiet, and being unwell, go to my bed.


Clear and warm. Still unwell today. The Rebel army busy crossing at various points on the Potomac. Lee's headquarters still in Hagerstown, but the troops going to Williamsport and Shepherdstown. We hear much of Lee's equipment has crossed over together with much livestock.

Some troops come in this morning and moved towards Greencastle. About 3,000 passed through Mercersburg. The town in confusion. Many of our females show little self-respect. You see them bareheaded, mingling with the crowd, and a number of them hanging on the arms of strange soldiers. It is amazing that the parents allow this to take place. Perhaps it is condoned under the guise of patriotism, but this usually ends in the ruin of these daughters. Tonight, General Couch arrived amid much cheering. The speeches they give are politically slanted and do nothing toward ending the war and healing our wounds. END William Heyser6


Many soldiers idle about town, laying on cellar doors and door steps.

About ten o'clock nearly 7,000 troops passed through town toward Maryland.

General Couch orders the academy and Franklin Hall to be fitted up for a hospital.


Raining all day. Mrs. Fisher's hired girl accosted by a soldier in her room. Her screams brought help.


Clear. Lee has safely retreated over the Potomac.


How ironic, now we have plenty of troops around and not needed, before, in our hour of need, there were none.

Quite unwell, my eyes sore from cold.


To my farm, fences nearly all gone, will take perhaps $2,000 to repair damage to farm.

August 1863


George Dietz, a Dutchman, drove by with his family; a good example of how a man profiteered from a small business in war time and became very rich. He made $10,000 in the short space of two months on the sale of corn and oats to the government.


Death of Philip Berlin, an industrious and godly man. We were in business together at one time. His failure cost me $7,000. I have forgiven him. He died in his 84th years. He had been born on the ocean when his parents immigrated to this country from Germany. He was put to the trade of wagonmaking for a number of years. At the death of Jacob Whitmore he took over his store and continued in the merchandising business for years. I entered into business with him on several occasions. He was first married to a Coover, an ignorant and pernicious woman. His second wife, Mrs. Suesserott, an excellent woman who died several years ago.

September 1863


Feel oppressed. Took my colored boy fishing, feel better for the exercise and change.


To a sale of government horses. All skin and bones, brought from $1 to $60. None would I take as a gift. Left in disgust.


Labored in my garden. Became so fatigued could not eat dinner.


Attended to all classes, met my Bible class and in even attended Episcopal services.


Proctor and I went fishing, caught nothing, but enjoyed the outing.


My wife and I to the farm. The weeds are unmanageable, the insects have taken all over.


Much needed rain. At the bank today, feel heavy and dull.


High price of everything due to war shortages. Wood $4-$5 cord, coal $7 ton. Everybody speculating.


Visited my mountain land. Find the excursion very relaxing and exhilarating. Quite cool this morning.


Plague of caterpillars destroying my grapevines.


Loose females hanging on arms of soldiers. A disgusting display of loose morals. No child of mine would even be out to commit such indiscretions.


Quite cool. Morning at the bank, home all afternoon doing repairs around the house.


Fine weather. Have looseness of the bowels which has become quite chronic. At the bank, purchased my winter's coal. Called to see my man Proctor who is ill, took him some medicine. When these colored folk are ill, generally it is physical. Much of my illness and grief comes from undue anxiety and melancholy that produces indigestion. When my liver acts well, I seldom have the blues.

Out of humor with Proctor's son who was to fill my coal bin. He showed up when I had the job nearly done.


Weather beautiful. Quite unwell. The old frame is wearing out. The vigors of youth cannot be restored.

Walked out to the Presbyterian Graveyard to get some ivy. It is a beautiful spot, ancient, untouched by time. The tombs, trees, and mosses attest to a dignified burial ground.

October 1863


At the bank in the morning. Rev. Bausman voted out this day, against my judgment. Much disappointment in the church.


Beautiful day, but for the insane actions of the cavalry dashing their worn-out horses up and down the streets. Morning prayer meeting and services by Rev. Bausman. Sabbath school at one. At five, met with my Bible Class.


Pleasant weather. Took Rev. Bausman along to my mountain land to view some rails for fences. Met my tenant there and his son. I had taken my gun along for some small game. We were all standing in a half circle while I proceeded to load my gun. Upon pulling back the cock to place the cap, the gun suddenly discharged, the load narrowly missing my tenant. This clearly shows how accidents can happen no matter how careful one acts. We found no game, so back to the buggy for lunch of bread and wine. We visited another mountain tract of mine, quite high and a clear view this day of Chambersburg. The spire of German Reform Church visible, nine miles away. Left for home as the sun was declining on an almost perfect day. Brought the children some chestnuts in their burrs which stirred them up a bit.


Pleasant weather. At home all day, much troubled with my bowels. Meeting with cemetery board in evening. We declared a 6% dividend on the Capital Stock of the company.


Raining all day, am quite unwell. To the bank this morning. William Flory died this morning. For a number of years he furnished coffins for others, and now will occupy one of his own. He was a good man, affectionate father and husband, very retiring and inoffensive man of a gentle disposition. He was a cabinetmaker.


Pleasant weather. At bank until dinner. Rode to Stouffers to see them make syrup of sugar cane. Out to my farm, have some difficulty with a tenant who is cutting down my trees, he said he shall leave, I hope so. Remained at home and finished my writing.


Fine weather. Morning at the bank; in the afternoon to Chalybeate Spring, about mile from town, drank some of the water and returned. Still unwell, fell very languid.

Henry Merkline died yesterday. He was a printer by profession, and embraced other branches of his trade. Feel very unwell.


Beautiful weather. Feel so unwell could not leave the house.


Beautiful weather. Feel a little better and attended Sabbath School and met with my Bible Class.


Pleasant. At bank awhile. This afternoon took my grandson George S. Eyster and my gun and rode out to the slate hills for exercise.


Cloudy. Left home for my mountain land, taking with me six little girls, some my grandchildren. They were a merry lot and made me feel better. I had taken an open spring wagon, filled it with hay and spread a buffalo robe over it. We left about three for home and all had a fine time, except for the heavy shower of rain. We were well provided with umbrellas and shawls. I think all will remember that day of merriment. Those in our party were: Betty Eyster, Ellie Heyser, Mary Eyster, Nellie Eyster, Ellie Eyster, Georgie Shuman.

Spent the evening reading and writing.


Have been suddenly taken ill with a violent pain in my right breast, very acute.


Somewhat cold. Managed to attend church and my Bible Class. I go to bed very sick.


Weather clear. Feel a little better, will attend the synod at Carlisle. Took the first train arriving there about eleven. An interesting visit, but felt very unwell. Disappointed to find much politics and log rolling among the young aspirants. Other speeches and complaints, many out of order.8


{1} Heyser reflects on his love for the changing of the seasons.

{2} Heyser was 16 years old then.

{3} The Measy house is still standing at 559 South Main Street. A single brick house that at one time had a public pump in front on the sidewalk. After the death of her husband, she ran a boarding house there for an income. Her husband had been a shoemaker.

{4} The check had been removed from the diary many years ago.

{5} Heyser had German parents that kept and lived by the old ways.

{6} The first volume of Heyser's diary ends here.

{7}Here inserted: $20 in Continental Currency, issued by Hall & Sellers, 1779. Half Crown--25 shillings and six pence current money of Virginia 5/6/1776. (J. Dixon's signature affixed)

{8} Last entry. William Heyser died November 5, 1863.

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