Memorial Fountain and Statue
Memorial Fountain was built in the middle of the Chambersburg town square and dedicated on July 17, 1878. The fountain was created to honor Civil War soldiers, and it features a Union soldier facing south, the direction of the Confederate men who destroyed the town.
Nearby on the same square you will also find the historic county courthouse, an old church, and a historic marker describing the town's destruction during the Civil War.
Franklin County Courthouse
The original Franklin County Courthouse was completed in 1794 on land purchased from the town's founder, Benjamin Chambers. The plain brick structure was replaced in 1842 by a Greek Revival structure with stone walls and columns. This second courthouse was burned on July 30, 1864 by Confederate forces under Brigadier General John A. McCausland during the Civil War.
The current courthouse was completed using the original stone walls and columns that survived the fires. It features a domed clock cupola with a statue of Benjamin Franklin on top.
The historical marker in front of the courthouse reads:
Formed on September 9, 1784 from Cumberland County and named for Benjamin Franklin. Site of Falling Spring, noted limestone trout stream. Birthplace of James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States. Chambersburg, county seat, was laid out 1764.
Chambersburg Borough Hall and Clock Tower
In 1831 this building, formerly the Old Market House, was constructed and opened for business. In 1930, the borough began using the building for its public offices, and by 1945 the borough occpied the entire building and the market was displaced.
The hall is home to the city council, mayor and the police department.
Franklin County World War I Memorial
This statue of a World War I doughboy stands on the eastern side of the Chambersburg Historic District, looking towards the battlefields of Europe.
The plaque reads:
They shall live forevermore
our glorious dead
Erected to the memory of the men and women of Franklin County who gave their lives in the World War
This is followed by a list of local citizens who sacrificed their lives in the war.
Civil War History--John Brown to JEB Stuart
The historical markers at the edge of town read, in part:
Scene of Civil
War events: Raided by "Jeb"
Stuart, 1862; occupied by
Confederates in 1863; and
burned by them in 1864.
Prior to the Civil War, Chambersburg was the site of some Underground Railroad activity. Also, John Brown visited Chambersburg in 1859. Three plaques in town tell the story:
Underground Railroad Activity in Chambersburg. Throughout the pre-Civil War period, there were a number of Underground Railroad "stations" in this area, temporary places of refuge for former slaves escaping through the mountainous terrain to freedom in the North. One local Underground Railroad agent was a free black barber, Henry Watson, who assisted fugitive slaves as they passed through Chambersburg, helping to keep them safe and undetected by the slave-catchers and bounty hunters searching for them.
John Brown. Boarded in this house for a while in the summer of 1859 under the name of "Smith." While in Chambersburg, he secretly received firearms and ammunition. Later in 1859, Brown led a raid on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry.
Frederick Douglass and John Brown. The two abolitionists met at a stone quarry here, Aug. 19-21, 1859, and discussed Brown's plans to raid the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. He urged Douglass to join an armed demonstration against slavery. Douglass refused, warning the raid would fail; the Oct. 16, 1859 attack confirmed his fears. Brown was captured with his surviving followers and was executed Dec. 2, 1859.
In 1862 when Robert E. Lee entered Maryland to fight a decisive battle at Antietam, JEB Stuart went of his famous ride around the Union Army as far north as Chambersburg. Stuart not only embarrassed the Union commanders, but he left Lee with out the "eyes and ears" of the cavalry, meaning he lacked essential intelligence about Union forces in the area. Lee lost the battle of Antietam and was forced to retreat back into Virginia.
Three markers describe the 1863 occupation prior to the Battle of Gettysburg:
Gettysburg Campaign. Gen. A. G. Jenkins' Southern cavalry raided Chambersburg June 15-17, 1863, prior to the main invasion; and later led the invading army, June 22-24. Gen. R. E. Lee entered Chambersburg on June 26.
Confederate Conference. On June 26, 1863, Gen. Robert E. Lee and staff entered this square. After conferring with Gen. A.P. Hill near the middle of the "Diamond," Lee turned eastward and made headquarters at the edge of town.
Gettysburg Campaign. Gen. Robert E. Lee reached Chambersburg June 26, 1863. Hearing June 28 that Union troops under Gen. Joseph Hooker had crossed the Potomac to Frederick, he decided to unite his forces at Cashtown; and left the city by this road.
In 1864 the Confederates returned one more time, this time to bring destruction to the town:
Burning of Chambersburg. Occupied the morning of July 30, 1864, by cavalry of Confederate Gen. John McCausland. Failing to obtain ransom, he burned the town in reprisal for ruin in the Shenandoah Valley by Gen. David Hunter.