Lost and Found features brief profiles of historic landmarks and structures, one lost and one saved.


Southern soldiers largely restrained themselves from destroying private property during the American Civil War’s Gettysburg Campaign. Their final foray into the Commonwealth, however, was drastically different. On July 30, 1864, Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland’s forces torched the Franklin County seat of Chambersburg in southcentral Pennsylvania in retaliation for Union General David Hunter’s looting and destruction in the Shenandoah Valley earlier that summer. McCausland and his twenty-eight hundred cavalrymen demanded $500,000 in currency or $100,000 in gold or they would destroy the community. Residents refused and Confederate soldiers broke into houses, smashed furniture, heaped it in piles, and set them on fire. More than five hundred buildings and structures were leveled by the flames, leaving two thousand residents homeless. Damage was estimated at $1.6 million — the equivalent of $23.6 million today. “Remember Chambersburg!” quickly became a Union battle cry. When Northern newspapers reported the death of McCausland at the age of ninety in 1927, they still referred to him as the “Hun of Chambersburg.” PHMC installed a state historical marker in 1947 at Chambersburg to commemorate the wholesale destruction.



David Wills (1831–1894), a prominent Adams County attorney and jurist, purchased one of the largest edifices on Gettysburg’s square in 1859 to use as a residence and law office. Four years later, during the July 1–3, 1863, Battle of Gettysburg, he saw “a group of rebels with an axe break open the store door” of one of the building’s tenants while fearful residents hid in its cellar. “War Governor” Andrew Gregg Curtin appointed Wills the Commonwealth’s agent for the proper burial of thirty-five hundred Union soldiers after the battle ended. Approximately twenty thousand people converged on Gettysburg for the formal dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery on November 19, 1863. The evening before the dedication Wills and his wife Catherine Jane (“Jennie”) hosted nearly forty dinner and several overnight guests, including Curtin, orator Edward Everett, and President Abraham Lincoln. It was in Jennie’s bedroom that the president revised his immortal Gettysburg Address. Following extensive restoration, the David Wills House opened in 2009 as one of the community’s newest museums. It will participate in the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on Tuesday, November 19.