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Valley of the Shadow

Valley Spirit: October 26, 1864

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-Page 01-

Description of Page: Democratic party leader's speech continues on page 2; classified ads, columns 1-4

Address of the State Central Committee
(Column 5)
Summary: C. L. Ward, Chairman of the Democratic state central committee, outlines the views of Northern Democrats on the war, Lincoln, peace and the future of the Union.

-Page 02-

Description of Page: Dispatches reporting on troop movement and skirmishing near Harper's Ferry and Cedar Creek, Virginia, column 7

(Column 2)
Summary: Announces that Democratic electoral tickets are available from W. S. Stenger, Esq., chairman of the county executive committee.
(Names in announcement: W. S. StengerEsq.)
The Popular Current
(Column 2)
Summary: Says that the Pennsylvania Democrats gained 23,825 votes in the congressional and local Franklin County races over their total from last year.
Free Ballot in the Army
(Column 2)
Summary: Tells about the experience of a soldier in the Army of the Potomac who faced Republican pressure when he tried to vote Democratic.
Citizens of Franklin County, Read!
(Column 3)
Summary: Condemns Lincoln administration policies--including General Grant's order to make the Valley a "barren waste"--for not protecting the interests and property of Franklin County and other Valley citizens. Urges readers to vote McClellan.
Full Text of Article:

About two weeks ago Gen. Grant, Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the United States, issued an order to Gen. Sheridan (commanding our troops in the Shenandoah Valley) that he should destroy all the subsistence of the people, burn their buildings, drive off all their hands, seize their horses and cattle, and make the Valley a barren waste incapable for the future of subsisting a rebel army. This order was issued not as a retaliatory measure for the wicked and atrocious crime of burning Chambersburg, but pretends to justify itself as a military necessity.

Below we print Gen. Sheridan's own account of the manner in which he has executed the order of his military superior:

"Woodstock, Va., Oct. 7, 1864, P.M.

Lieutenant-General U.S. Grant:

I have the honor to report my command at this point to-night. I commenced moving back from port Republic, Mount Crawford, Bridgewater, and Harrisonburg yesterday morning. The grain and forage in front of these points have previously been destroyed. In moving back to this point, the whole country from the Blue Ridge to the North Mountain has been made untenable for a rebel army. I have destroyed over 2,000 barns filled with wheat, hay, and farming implements; over 70 mills filled with flour and wheat; have driven in front of the army over 400 head of stock, and have killed and issued to the troops not less than 3,000 sheep. This destruction embraces the Luray Valley and Little Fort Valley, as well as the main valley. A large number of horses have been obtained, a proper estimate of which I cannot make. Lieutenant John R. Meigs, my engineer, was murdered beyond Harrisonburg, near Dayton. For this atrocity all the houses within an area of five miles were burned. Since I came into the valley from Harper's Ferry up to Harrisonburg, every train, every small party, and every straggler has been whacked by the people, many of whom have protection papers from commanders who have been hitherto in the valley. The people here are getting sick of the war. Heretofore they have had no reason to complain, because they have been living in great abundance. I have not been followed by the enemy up to this point, with the exception of a small force of rebel cavalry, that showed themselves some distance behind my rear guard to-day. A party of 100 of the 8th Ohio cavalry, which I had stationed at the bridge over the mouth of the Shenandoah, near Mount Jackson was attacked by McNeil with 17 men while they were asleep, and the whole party dispersed or captured. I think that they will turn up. I learn that 50 of them had reached Winchester. McNeil was mortally wounded and fell into our hands. This was fortunate, as he was the most daring and dangerous of all the bush whackers in this section of the country.

P. H. Sheridan, Major-General."

If the above official report were not signed by Gen. Sheridan, and addressed in proper form to Gen. Grant, we would be inclined to disbelieve the whole story. That an order so desperately wicked, so contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and so revolting to the civilization of this age, should have been issued and executed by officers commanding the armies of a free, civilized and religious nation, is, indeed, almost too incredible for human belief. But all doubt upon this matter is silenced and put to rest by the open avowal of the administration at Washington that this cruel order of Gen. Grant has its hearty approbation and is justifiable as a military necessity.

The Christian sentiment, not only of our own people but of the whole civilized world, will require the authors of this severe and unparalelled measure, to make out a clear case of necessity, before they can hope to escape the reprobation which such atrocity generally so richly deserves. No ordinary circumstances will justify a civilized people in resorting to a wholesale and indiscriminate destruction of private property. No common exigency will excuse a barbarous war upon non-combatants. Nothing but the most pressing necessity, will warrant a military commander in depopulating whole sections of country, wasting and burning up the property of the people, and making a rich, populous and fertile valley a howling wilderness, incapable of supporting any living thing. But these are the very things which Gen. Sheridan boasts to have done in his official report quoted above.

Is there anything in the present condition of the war to imperatively demand, at this late day, a resort to such measures as will undoubtedly receive the condemnation, sooner or later, of every right thinking and conscientious man? If the Republican papers and speakers are to be believed, our cause was never more prosperous, and our success never more certain than now. We are told daily by them that the rebellion is in the throes of dissolution; that the rebels have robbed the cradle and the grave to fill up their depleted armies; that Sheridan has totally destroyed Early's army in the Valley of the Shenandoah; and that Grant has his hand so firmly fixed upon the throat of Lee and his army at Petersburg and Richmond, that his grip cannot be shaken off. We are promised by them that the war will be over before this year shall end. Now if these things, or even the one half of them, be true, why the necessity for this spoliation and destruction of the subsistance [sic] of a whole people? Why resort to arson, rapine and vandalism after the crisis of our fate has been safely passed and all danger is pronounced to be over?

If we have the truth from the administration at Washington about the present prosperous state of our affairs, is there a single man in this community who will dare to say that he justifies the atrocious order of Gen. Grant, and its merciless execution by his subordinate officers? If so, we would like him to step forward before the tribunal of the people, so that they may see what manner of man he is.

It must be remembered that this was not justified as a retaliatory act for the burning of Chambersburg, but it was placed solely upon the ground of military necessity. Retaliation whould [sic] have been simply revenge, and the present prospects of our cause would have had no effect in determining its propriety. But when it is excused as a military necessity, and the same men who make this plea also tell us that the war is just about over, we have a strange inconsistency which it is difficult to explain. If the rebellion is as nearly crushed as the Republicans pretend then there was no necessity which would justify such a wanton destruction of property. Two thousand barns, seventy mills, filled with wheat, are burned; all the dwelling houses within an area of five miles are consumed; all the cattle are driven off; and the women and children left to starve, just at the commencement of winter, by the officials of a government which boasts that its arms have been everywhere successful and its armies everywhere victorious.

The civilized world presents no similar instance of such wanton and unnecessary destruction of property under similar circumstances. History furnishes examples of a brave but unfortunate people, overpowered by superior numbers, destroying the subsistence of the land in order to expel their invaders. But we assert that history gives no instance of a victorious nation devastating a country which it has subdued, except the solitary example of the Czar of Russia in his treatment of the unfortunate Poles.

Who are these people that have been thus ruined by our Government? Many of them are northern men who have settled in the Shenandoah Valley. Not a few of them are non-residents, members of the Menonist Church, and kindred religious societies, who have gone there from the German settlements of Pennsylvania. But there is no distinction made among the citizens of the Valley; all are doomed to the same common ruin; all are marked out as victims, to gratify the savage ferocity which now characterizes the conduct of this war. But this war was commenced to restore the Union. It was to be a war, whose object should be to bring back the citizens of the seceded States to their allegiance to the Government. Mr. Lincoln declared that he intended to prosecute the war for this purpose and no other. Does any man of sane mind think that the Southern people can be conciliated and brought back into the Union, by such acts of cold blooded barbarity as Gen. Sheridan relates in his official report? Will men who have been ruined and their property wholly destroyed love the Government that inflicts the wrong? Is this what experience teaches us? Do our citizens love the vandals and cut-throats who burnt Chambersburg? Not a bit better than the citizens of the Shenandoah Valley will love the men and the Government that made their homes a waste place and a desolation.

But as citizens of Franklin County we have a deeper interest in the war policy of this administration, than other portions of the country removed from the scene of hostilities. To us it is a vital question, that private property shall be protected by both armies. It may do very well for the men of the New England states to advocate a war of extermination. They are perfectly safe. But we are in constant danger. Three successive summers have witnessed the invasion of our county by the rebel hordes. What assurance have we that next summer they will not return again? We are told with great positiveness that they will never get back again. But we have been often told the same thing before, and yet they have come. Why what is to prevent their coming? When the Potomac is low they can come just when they wish to do so. If our experience has taught us anything, it surely has taught us this. The rebel Gen. Stuwart ran around an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men in the fall of 1862. Why, only a few nights ago, Moseby with his band of guerrillas stopped two trains on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and robbed the passengers; and after he had accomplished that bold feat, he crossed over into Maryland and plundered and destroyed there.

Citizens of Franklin County supposing the rebels come back again, do you flatter yourselves they will not take revenge for the atrocities practiced in the Shenandoah Valley? Yes, verily they will do it, and awful will be their visitation. What will your barns and houses be worth then? Will you ask them to spare you? They will tell you to remember the Valley of the Shenandoah. The hour is ours now. But the opportunity will be theirs then.

Oh, ye men that gloat with joy over these deeds of cruelty, take care that a swift retribution does not overtake you. We write this with sorrow. We urge these considerations in a spirit of kindness to those who differ with us. But we ask them, can we living along the border afford to support the war policy of our administration, that puts in jeopardy not only our property but our lives also? If no higher motive will move us, ought not selfishness at least make us cry out against this dangerous precedent, which can be so easily used to our utter ruin, when the changing fortunes of war shall have brought the rebels back again upon us? Is there a single man in our community who does not regret what has been done by Sheridan? Is there a single individual who will stand up and say that this is right? If there be such, we do not expect to change his views by anything we can write, because he would not be convinced though one rose from the dead. But to the calm, dispassionate man we appeal, and ask him to reflect over this matter. Is this the way you desire to see this war conducted? If it is not, we beg of you to read and study Gen. McClellan's method. Consider carefully his views upon this subject. They are to be found in the following sentences of a letter written by him to President Lincoln, from Harrison's Landing, on the 7th day of July, A.D., 1862:

"This rebellion has assumed the character of war; as such it should be regarded, and it should be conducted upon the highest principles known to Christian civilization. It should not be a war looking to the subjugation of the people of any State in any event. It should not be at all a war upon populations, but against armed forces and political organizations. Neither confiscation of property, political executions of person, territorial organizations of States, or forcible abolition of slavery should be contemplated for a moment. In prosecuting the war, all private property taken for military use should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes; all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited, and offensive demeanor by the military towards citizens promptly rebuked."

Such is the difference between the view of Gen. McClellan and the practices of Mr. Lincoln in the conduct of the war. Citizens of Franklin County, decide for yourselves which course of policy is best and safest for you. If you prefer that private property should be destroyed, that this war should be waged against women and children, that your barns and houses shall be placed in peril, and that you yourselves shall be in jeopardy every hour, vote for Mr. Lincoln. But if you believe that in the prosecution of this war, all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, vote for McClellan. The question is a simple one and easily decided. The issue is in your hands, and upon you will rest the awful responsibility for its proper decision. We have given our warning; it is your right to disregard it if you think proper.

(Column 5)
Summary: Suggests that the November election offers the last chance to preserve the freedom of white men.
District Returns
(Column 5)
Summary: Lists the majorities received by candidates in the congressional, judicial, and legislative districts of which Franklin County is a part. In the race for Congress, A. H. Coffroth (Democrat) received a 60 vote majority in Franklin County and a 660 majority overall. In the judicial race, Francis Kimmell (Democrat) received a 112 vote majority in Franklin County and a 237 majority overall. And in the state assembly race, where the top two vote-getters were declared the winners, J. McDowell Sharpe (Democrat) received 241 more votes than A. K. McClure (Republican), who in turn received 15 more votes than William S. Mitchell (Democrat) and 213 more than [?] Roath (Republican). Notes that these vote margins are only for the home vote, since the army vote has yet to be returned.
(Names in announcement: A. H. Coffroth, W. H. Koontz, Francis Kimmell, King, J. McDowell Sharpe, William S. Mitchell, A. K. McClure, Roath)
The Majorities
(Column 5)
Summary: Lists the majorities received by each party in the recent elections. In Franklin County, the Democratic candidates combined to receive a 60 vote majority, and in the state, Democrats combined for a 1,843 vote majority.
[No Title]
(Column 5)
Summary: Warns the Repository editor that the recent election results show that tide is turning against his party.
Read! Read!!
(Column 6)
Summary: Cites a Richmond Examiner editorial as evidence that Southerners fear the collapse of the Confederacy if McClellan is elected.
Another Republican Paper Out For McClellan
(Column 6)
Summary: Notes that the Phelps (NY) Union Star, a Republican paper, gained a significant number of new subscribers after it announced its support for McClellan.

-Page 03-

Description of Page: Previously published political notice, column 1; reports on skirmishing in Vermont and Missouri, column 2; classified ads, columns 2-7

The Soldiers' Vote
(Column 1)
Summary: Explains that the Prothonotary is responsible for collecting soldiers' voting tickets and giving them to the return judges to count.
The Latest Decision
(Column 1)
Summary: Reports that the Provost Marshal General has decided that in cases where a drafted man deserts before he is mustered into service, the district of which he is a member will have to hold a supplemental draft to make up for his loss.
The Voice of Blood, in the Sphere of Nature and of the Spirit World
(Column 1)
Summary: Notes that Rev. Samuel Phillips, formerly a clergyman in Franklin County, has just published a book entitled The Voice of Blood, in the Sphere of Nature and of the Spirit World.
(Names in announcement: Rev. Samuel Phillips)
Supreme Court
(Column 1)
Summary: Lists names of the current members of the Supreme Court: Nathan Clifford of Maine, Samuel Nelson of New York, Robert C. Grier of Pennsylvania, and John Catron of Tennessee. Those current members appointed by Lincoln are: David Davis of Illinois, Noah H. Swayne of Ohio, Samuel F. Miller of Iowa, and Stephen J. Field of California.
(Column 3)
Summary: Rev. H. Y. Hummelbaugh married Henry G. Etter and Hannah Brandt on October 20 in Orrstown.
(Names in announcement: Rev. H. Y. Hummelbaugh, Henry G. Etter, Hannah Brandt)

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Description of Page: Classified ads, columns 1-7