Retribution in Pennsylvania
Already a sworn enemy of the South, its people and interests before the war, Thaddeus Stevens of received just retribution when Jubal Early’s men arrived at his Pennsylvania ironworks in mid-1863. A high-tariff industrial protectionist, he publicly denounced Southerners and any Northerners who cooperated with them politically; while condemning slavery he and his fellow abolitionists never advanced any peaceful and practical means to rid the country of that labor system. During the war, he and his fellow Republicans used government and military power to ensure election ballots favored his party.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org
Retribution in Pennsylvania
“The war was brought home to Stevens very directly that summer. In the third week of June , Stevens was at his Caledonia ironworks. Confederate General A.G. Jenkins sent a foraging party to the forge, [and Stevens] was hurried away to Shippensburg by a byroad. Jenkins took away some horses and mules, but on June 26, Jubal Early arrived, and in spite of [the managers] plea that Steven’s had been losing money at the forge and would benefit by its destruction while the employees would suffer, [Early], remarking that Yankees did not do business that way, burned the ironworks to the ground, confiscated all movable property, and left the place a shambles.
Early, who acted upon his own responsibility, justified his action on the grounds that Union forces had wreaked similar havoc in the South, and in particular had burned the ironworks of John Bell, to say nothing of Stevens’s known advocacy of “vindictive” measures toward the South.
On July 11, he received the first direct news from his manager. He learned that the rebels had taken all his horses, mules and harness; his bacon (about 4,000 pounds), molasses, and other contents of his store; and about $1,000 worth of corn in the mills as well as a like quantity of other grain.
As Stevens put it, “[the Confederates] finally expressed great regret that they were not so fortunate as to meet the owner, who seems to be very popular with the [Southern] chivalry.” In the meantime, he was happy about the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg, although he was afraid that General Robert E. Lee would try to mass his forces to catch Meade’s forces while dispersed.
Steven’s losses were widely reported, and while others sympathized with him, the [National] Intelligencer editorialized that his chickens had come home to roost. Had he not advocated the burning of every rebel mansion? Now he himself was the victim.
[But now] Stevens was worried about [the fall] elections. He complained [that the people of his local] counties had suffered greatly because of [Lee’s] invasion, but that they were now more aroused against the Union army than against the insurgents. The returning Federals had carried off horses and goods and so tarnished [Lincoln’s] administration’s reputation that a great number of votes would be lost.
To make sure of garnering as many [Republican] votes as possible, he asked the secretary of the treasury to furlough clerks from the Keystone State so that they would be able to take part in the election, and suggested to the State central committee see to it that the army’s vote be counted.”
(Thaddeus Stevens, Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian, Hans L. Trefousse, Stackpole Books, 2001, excerpts pp. 134-136)