Historical Society News
The following letter is in the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Va., written by Lt. Whitfield G. Kisling, 10th VA Infantry with Steuart's Brigade. A photocopy was given to the Fulton County Historical Society by Steve French, author of a new book on Imboden's Brigade and speaker at the society's summer meeting.
"Camp at McConnellsville, Fulton Co, Pennsylvania. June 25th 1863 Dear Cousin,
I wrote home from Sharpsburg, Md., and as we are now playing the part of invader on the soil of the Old Keystone State, suppose a note from here would be acceptable.
We arrived here yesterday evening after a hard march of 25 miles from Hagerstown. At Green Castle our brigade was detached from the division, our baggage keeping the Pike with the division by Chambersburg whilst we in fighting trim moved directly west through Mercersburg crossing the mountain to this place. Our march was made without interruption till we reached the mountain when we came across a company of cavalry (Milroy's) who had escaped us at Winchester and a lot of militia. They had the road barricaded at various points and fired 30 or 40 rounds at our advance but without effect. Several of them were wounded and as many captured.
The people along the line of march were literally quaking in their boots to my surprise. They were acquainted with the actions of the soldiers in the Valley and they expected we would do them even worse and their joy was unbounded at our orderly march. They freely gave us any and everything they had to eat - an intimidation was all that was necessary and the pots of apple butter, milk, bread etc were forthcoming - "We'll give you anything you want but for god's sake don't burn my house" were frequent exclamations. Stocks of all kinds have been run off to the mountains and men and horses are equally scarce.
To my surprise I find some Southern Rights people even here. They are always of the better class having friends and relatives in the South. But as a general thing the people are a narrow minded ignorant selfish German population with the ugliest girls I ever saw - this is not prejudice on my part - they are the most uncouth ungainly females I ever saw.
This is a beautiful limestone country interspersed with ridges of slate presenting very much the appearance of the Valley. The farms are small and in a high state of cultivation. Our forces have had possession of Chambersburg for some time. Some few stores were captured including some thousands of small arms which had been hid in the houses.
We are now laying by today in the shade and I have just finished one of the best of dinners. We had sliced onions with vinegar peppers etc, nice fried stake, boiled eggs, hot rolls, butter, apple butter, fruit, coffee with sugar, stewed peaches, milk, peach preserves and "lastly" as our little chaplain says - some of the nicest kind of courant wine.
We have all concluded that invasion is a good thing to give the men no excuse for straggling. I made a detail of four men from each company who were under charge of our commissary to forage. They have just returned with a spring wagon loaded with onions, butter, milk, apple butter, hams etc and the boys are now enjoying themselves over it highly. They reported a great many houses lay totally deserted - barns and hay lofts filled with flour, gears etc.
I have bought a dress for you and some calico for Fannie. I don't know if you will fancy the dress much but I think it will look pretty well it was the nicest I could get. I could have gotten any quantity of needles, thread, etc., but suppose you have plenty of them. If you will let me know what you want I can get them for you. I have made the acquaintance of some pretty secesh girls and intend to write a letter to cousin Martha Brown and get them to mail it for me. If you want to write to them you can do so by enclosing the letter to me. You will hear from me soon again. My love to all.
Your cousin, Whit
Chambersburg, June 27th. I have not had an opportunity to send this off before we are now here. We have met with no resistance yet and are going to Harrisburg. Gen. Lee is here.