The History of Loudoun County, Virginia

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Loudoun County Civil War Timeline
1861- 1865 - A County Divided

A Civil War Chronology of Loudoun County, Virginia

From The Loudoun Times Mirror - Civil War and Historical Edition - Vol 162, No. 46, dated November 16, 1961.


This is a timeline of Loudoun County Virginia during the Civil War. At the time of secession, the eastern and southern sections were predominately Southern in their views, while to the north and west the people were equally strong in their pro-Union sympathies.

1859

1861

  • February 13 - Secession Convention meets at Richmond; Loudoun send John Janney and John A. Carter as delegates, and Janney is elected president.
  • April 12—Fort Sumter (SC) is fired upon, setting off war.
  • April 15—President Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteer troops, and this swings Loudoun and Virginia public opinion toward secession.
  • April 17—Richmond convention passes Ordinance of Secession by 85 to 55, with Janney and Carter voting against.
  • May 23—-Loudoun's division is sharply illustrated as County' votes l,626 to 726 to ratify secession. Lovettsville and Waterford areas vote heavily against secession,
  • June 9—-Colonel Thomas Jonathan (later "Stonewall") Jackson orders Potomac bridges burned at Point of Rocks, Berlin (now Brunswick), and Harper's Ferry, to prevent approach by Northern troops. Earthworks are: started around Leesburg (Forts Johnston, Beauregard, Evans), and Loudoun militia is called up for Confederate service.
  • July—Samuel C. Means, prosperous miller with Northern sentiments, is forced by neighbors to flee to Maryland, and his property is confiscated.
  • October 20—-Union Gen. McClellan tells Brigadier General Charles P. Stone to keep a good look-out on Leesburg from across the Potomac, and suggests that "a slight demonstration" might move the Southern defenders of the town.
  • October 21—Federal troops try to move into Loudoun and spark the Battle of Ball's Bluff. The Northern troops are roundly defeated.
  • December—Confederate General D. H. Hill replaces the victor of Ball's Bluff, Nathan G. "Shanks" Evans, as commander of Confederate forces in Loudoun with headquarters at Leesburg. Elijah V. White of Leesburg, a hero of Ball's Bluff, starts recruiting a company of Confederate cavalry in Loudoun, calls them his "Comanches."

1862

  • February 24—Union Colonel John W. Geary starts moving his infantry across the river from Harper's Ferry, establishes headquarters at Lovettsville. At Leesburg, County Clerk George K. Fox, Jr. packs the Loudoun County court records into a wagon, heads south.
  • March— Union General Hill abandons Loudoun as his forces are depleted by demands of the Peninsula Campaign. Confederate troops burn non-portable stores, and plan to burn Unison-sympathizing Waterford and Wheatland, but Geary's troops press hard and the villages are saved. Northern troops spread, over County, and Samuel C. Means returns with Geary, is commissioned captain of cavalry, organizes from Union sympathizers his partisan Loudoun Rangers, the only Virginia unit to serve in Northern army.
  • August 26—The Loudoun Rangers hole up at Waterford, are attacked there by White's Comanches and besieged in Baptist Church. Truce finally declared, with casualties two dead on each side and many wounded. An authentic action in which friend fought friend and brothers fought brothers.
  • September—Confederate Army crosses Loudoun en route to Antietam. Sharp cavalry engagement near Big Spring. General Lee,injured by a fall from his horse, enters Leesburg in an ambulance. Lee, Longstreet, Stuart and Jackson confer at Harrison House on King Street, and Lee visits John Janney at his home on Cornwall Street.
  • October 10 — J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry, having ridden completely around McClellan, crosses into Loudoun at White's Ford (three miles above present White's Ferry), passes through Leesburg and Snicker's Gap en route to Shenandoah Valley.
  • October 27- Union Army of the Potomac leaving Antietam, crosses into Loudoun at Harper's Ferry and Berlin (Brunswick) moves south into Faquier. McClennan establishes successive headquarters at Wheatland, Purcellville, and Union (Unison). After the Battle of Union, Lincoln removes McClellan from command. December - Confederate John S. Mosby is given authority to organize partisan detachment. He sets up his headquarters in Middleburg, and raids into Clark, Faquier, Loudoun, and Fairfax Counties. Starts establishing Mosby's Free State.

1863

  • June 17-28 - Union General Hooker moves entire Army of the Potomac north through Loudoun in largest troop maneuver seen by Loudoun citizens during the war. (Trivia note: Hooker inadvertently gave his name to the ladies who comprised the oldest profession in the world by virtue of his responsibility for overseeing the army of prostitutes (known jokingly as "Hooker's Brigade") that flocked to the Union camps in Washington DC).
  • June 17-28 - At Aldie, cavalry of Fitzhugh Lee and Judson Kilpatrick fight the war's stiffest small cavalry engagement, ending in Lee's withdrawal. Further cavalry fighting follows at Middleburg and Upperville, and Confederates are forced back. Stuart, attempting to follow Lee to Pennsylvania, crosses Potomac at extreme eastern tip of Loudoun; the wide and deep river delays his crossing, resulting in trouble for Lee at Gettysburg. White's Comanches, helping screen Lee in Pennsylvania, are the first Confederates in Gettysburg.
  • July 17-19.—Lee retreats south and General Mead, now commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, crosses into Loudoun from Berlin (Brunswick) and Harper's Ferry in pursuit, headquartering briefly at Lovettsville, moves through Waterford, Hamilton, Purcellville, Union (Unison), Hillsboro, Woodsgrove, and Snickersville (Bluemont).

1864

  • April—Union Captain Daniel M. Keys takes over command of Loudoun Rangers from Samuel C. Means.
  • June—Confederate General Jubal A. Early, grading Washington DC, retreats through Loudoun with his cavalry, crosses at White's Ford, rests two days at Leesburg. Union forces converge on him via Harper's Ferry, Edward's Ferry, and White's Ford, shell Confederates at Leesburg. Early retreats through Snicker's Gap, leaving 200 wagons and 150 men captured at Purcellville after a battle. Union forces return to Washington DC area.
  • August 16—Loudoun County Burning Raid. Grant orders Union General Sheridan to retaliate against Mosby's raids, tells him to seize Loudoun crops, animals, slaves and all men under 50, burn fields and barns (but not houses).
  • November 27—Somewhat belatedly, Sheridan sends Union General Wesley Merritt to comply with Grant's order. Merritt's horsemen cover most of County in five-day "burning raid," slaughter 1,000 "tatted hogs," drive off 6,000 cattle, 4,000 sheep, 700 horses, burn 230 barns, eight mills, a distillery, 10,000 tons of hay and 25,000 bushels of grain.
  • December—Mosby is badly wounded and nearly captured at the Ludwell Lake house near Middleburg, but escapes and recovers.

1865

  • January-—White's Comanches accompany General Early on a raid into West Virginia to capture cattle.
  • April 6—Mosby attacks, defeats and breaks up the Loudoun Rangers at Halltown, W.Va. April 9—Lee surrenders at Appomattox. E. V. White, now commanding the Laurel Brigade, is among those at the scene.
  • June 1—County holds its first post-war election, re-establishes local government.
  • August—County Clerk George A. Fox, who has protected the county court records hidden in southern Virginia since 1862, returns the public records to the Court House. Colonel Mosby, having dispersed his men, settles in Warrenton and begins practice of law in Loudoun court. Owners of 81 Loudoun farms and estates, all Southern sympathizers, get a scare when their properties are listed for distribution in 40 acre tracts to former slaves. But in November the order is rescinded.

1870

  • Virginia is readmitted to the Union.

1872

  • Congress reimburses Loudoun Union sympathizers, mainly Quakers, with $61,821, for property losses suffered during the war

1873

  • November 12—President Ulysses S. Grant visits County, gets warm reception at Leesburg train deport, and visits Loudoun Fair.

 

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