Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland died at his Mason County home on January 22, 1927. He was 90 years old and the next-to-the-last living Confederate general. He was survived by a little more than a year by Felix Robertson.
McCausland had grown up at Henderson, near Point Pleasant. In 1857, he graduated first in his class at the Virginia Military Institute and returned a year later to teach mathematics.
When Virginia seceded from the Union at the beginning of the Civil War, McCausland organized the 36th Virginia Infantry. However, he is best remembered for one act. In July 1864, he ordered his cavalry to burn the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, after its citizens refused to pay $100,000 in gold. The destruction of Chambersburg was in retaliation for Union General David Hunter’s devastating raid on the Shenandoah Valley.
After the war, McCausland fled the country to avoid prosecution for burning Chambersburg. He returned in 1867 and bought his farm in Mason County, where he lived the rest of his life as an unrepentant rebel. He was officially pardoned by President Ulysses S. Grant.