As summer hits its stride, Chambersburg is ready for its annual 1864 commemoration that pays tribute to the strength, faith, and determination of Chambersburg’s resident, who rebuilt the community from the ashes of destruction after the Confederate burning on July 30, 1864.The history reenactment pits Jacob Hoke, an actual merchant on the square of Chambersburg in 1864, against Confederate General “Tiger” John McCausland, who executed the order of his superior General Jubal Early to first ransom and then, if the ransom was not met, burn the town.
1864 is not an ordinary living history event. Staged from the steps of the Franklin County courthouse, the backdrop is truly authentic as today’s courthouse recycles six of the pillars from the 1842 courthouse–the previous courthouse gutted by the Confederate burning. But, most distinctive is the burning–done with lights so realistically, the courthouse and adjoining buildings appear to be afire. As the narration of the story, using original source materials concludes, the town rises from the ashes and is bathed in beautiful lights to signify the rebirth.
Leading up to 1864 The Burning, there are Civil War walking tours, history exhibits, living history vignettes, old-time photos, and book signings. At 7 PM, the musical entertainment is the focus as finalists of the A Capella & Unplugged perform one last time. The winner will be announced just before 1864 The Ransoming, Burning & Rebirth of Chambersburg begins.
1864 is adding more activities for children, including a special vendor Zoo Zoo’s Animaland to let kids of all ages create a furry friend. A special “Franklin County-Ben Bear” will be featured at 1864 and anyone registering at the Franklin County Visitors Bureau booth will be entered to win a free “Ben Bear.” The historic events of 1864 have been made into a video, using footage of the light shows.
This year when 1864 concludes, visitors can continue the celebration with more music, a little art, and some friendly and fun competitions at Illuminate! After Party at the Capitol Theatre, a block north on South Main Street.
Earlier in the day, the annual festival Old Market Day fills the streets of Chambersburg with over 100 stalls–row after row of art and craft vendors displaying one-of-a-kind wares as well as an assortment of festival food. Local merchants will hold sidewalk sales and courthouse plaza will feature a variety of music from classic rock to folk and bluegrass.
Chambersburg remembers the history of July 1864 when Confederates served a ransom demand on Chambersburg. True to history, the demand of $100,000 in gold or $500,000 in greenbacks will not be paid, and Chambersburg will be burned–with lights.
The Franklin County Visitors Bureau coordinates 1864 to promote Franklin County. Anyone interested in participating in the events leading up to 1864 The Burning as an author, living history portrayer, musician, or unique period vendor, can contact the Franklin County Visitor Bureau for details at 866.646.8060. No vendor fees are accessed to participate.
The Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites all to explore Franklin County PA and enjoy the trails of history, arts, recreation, natural beauty, fresh foods and the warm hospitality of communities like Chambersburg, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Shippensburg, and Waynesboro. Franklin County PA is located just north of the Mason Dixon Line and is an easy drive to Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Discover more….plan a visit soon at ExploreFranklinCountyPA.com or by contacting 866.646.8060.