1859: After John Brown's October raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., 50 Hillsboro militiamen, ages 15 to 75, trek to the Ferry "to protect Loudoun." The Between the Hills area north of Hillsboro becomes an armed camp; edgy recruits fire at anything that moves. Two other guard companies form, with one captain stating: Loudouners "are armed to the teeth and ready for war!"
1859-1860: Loudoun favors moderation in the November presidential elections, voting 2,033 to 909 for Democrat John Bell, who has no sympathy for secessionists. Abraham Lincoln receives only 11 votes, all from the predominantly Quaker precinct of South Purcellville. When Lincoln assumes the presidency, diarist Catherine Broun states the sentiments of many: "Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated this week (Black Republican). We greatly fear Civil War."
1861: John Armistead Carter, of Crednal, near Upperville, and John Janney, of Leesburg, represent Loudoun at the Richmond Convention that will debate secession. Initially opposed to a breakup, 88 to 45, the body changes its mind after the bombardment of Fort Sumter and President Lincoln's declaration of war on April 14. While Carter and Janney, president of the convention, vote against secession, the convention votes 88 to 55 for withdrawal from the Union. But now the citizens must decide.
1861: For the last time under the old regime, Loudoun voters trek to the polls May 23. Leesburg Precinct votes 400 to 22 to secede, but adjacent Waterford Precinct rejects secession 220 to 31. Lovettsville Precinct registers the largest pro-Union tally, rejecting secession 325 to 46. Lower Loudoun precincts vote 412 to 10 to secede, as does the county, 1,626 to 726.
At Richmond's Convention Hall, Janney admonishes Robert E. Lee, Virginia's new military leader, by quoting George Washington: "Swords should never be drawn from their scabbards, except in self defense or in defense of the rights and liberties of their country."
1861: In June, Col. Thomas Jackson (soon to be known as "Stonewall") orders the Berlin and Point of Rocks bridges burned to keep Union troops from crossing into Virginia. Construction begins on three earthen forts to guard approaches to Leesburg (two remain in excellent condition) and on stone bastions (many still intact) atop the Blue Ridge to protect Harpers Ferry. Hundreds join more than 20 Confederate units. Far fewer enlist in Maryland Union outfits and two cavalry companies known as the Loudoun Rangers--the only Federal unit from Virginia. Quakers remain noncombatants.
1861: Desirous of capturing Leesburg, road hub and rail head, 1,720 raw Union troops, many of them reservists, cross the Potomac on Oct. 21. Scaling the 80-foot-high Ball's Bluff northeast of Leesburg, they gain a small perimeter. But the confusion of battle wins out. They are driven back and down the precipitous slope. Fire rakes their narrow beach, and there are not enough boats for the return. Sixty percent of the Federal force is killed, wounded or captured. Confederate casualties total 8 percent of 1,710 soldiers. For weeks, bodies float down the Potomac, some reaching Washington.
1862: The main Confederate armies have left Loudoun when, in late winter, Union troops occupy friendly territory: Lovettsville and Waterford. In early March they capture Leesburg, invoke martial law and move on to hostile Upperville and Middleburg. Diarist Catherine Broun writes: "It is very distressing to us to see our own southern soldiers giving up this country." By spring, except for isolated pockets of resistance, Loudoun is in Union hands.
1862: When Federal troops occupy Lovettsville, Judge Asa Rogers orders County Clerk George K. Fox Jr. to remove all county records from the Leesburg courthouse. So deed books, wills, court minutes and the like are taken by wagon to Campbell County, Fox at the driver's seat. For 3 1/2 years, Fox moves his cargo about, returning in August 1865 "without the loss of a single paper."
1862: After the Aug. 29-30 Battle of Manassas and Sept. 1 Battle of Chantilly, much of Loudoun becomes a vast hospital. Broun, laboring as a nurse, reports all churches, stores, houses, vacant rooms and even shaded areas of streets crowded "with the most pitiable objects that one could possibly conceive of. The stench is terrible. I saw the rations for 200 men & I know 10 men could have eaten it." Fellow nurse Mary Cochran notes that "the bodily labor necessarily fell upon the town people but the country people sent in constant supplies of food ready cooked."
1862: In early September, on their way to Antietam, Gen. Lee's 64,000 troops enter and reorganize in Loudoun. Onlookers describe the men as "ragged, dusty, filthy, and ill provided for." At the Henry Tazewell Harrison house on Leesburg's King Street, the big four of the Army of Northern Virginia--Lee, James Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson and Jeb Stuart--plan their invasion of the North.
1862: The Confederate retreat from Antietam provides President Lincoln with an opportunity to present his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22. Catherine Broun tells of servants "running off from all parts of the country. Poor things they are going to their friends how disappointed they will be but we want them to go out and try them." Black Loudoun residents will celebrate that day in style through 1970.
1862: Returning from Antietam, the Union Army of the Potomac, numbering perhaps 50,000 troops, traverses Loudoun's west in late October and early November. Passing through Middleburg, a Maine private smugly asserts: "They cannot be wholly indifferent to our sleek and comparatively tidy appearance compared with the scarecrow condition of their own men. We smiled on them very graciously, molested no one."
1863: On Dec. 30, 1862, at Oakham farm near Middleburg, Jeb Stuart's chief scout, Lt. John Singleton Mosby, asks Stuart if he can remain in this bountiful area to harass Federal troops and forage for produce and supplies. Stuart agrees, and Mosby's 43rd Battalion Partisan Rangers forms, officially organized at Rector's Crossroads (now Atoka) on June 3. Some historians believe that Mosby's harassing actions prolonged the war. Locals contend that some of Mosby's credits belong to Confederate renegade John Mobberly, who operated in the German Settlement and Between the Hills. Others, especially in Fauquier, claim that Fauquier's Black Horse Troop initiated raids ascribed to Mosby.
1863: From June 17-21, cavalry and infantry units clash along the Route 50 corridor from Aldie to Upperville. On June 17, by the Snickersville Pike near Aldie, the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry suffers 305 casualties, nearly 20 percent of its force. Col. Thomas Munford, a Confederate commander, will remark after the war: "I never saw as many dead and wounded men and horses in the same space." In 1889, Bay State veterans mark the once-sanguinary scene with the only period Civil War monument in Loudoun.
1863: The objective of Union forces is the Blue Ridge so they can locate Gen. Lee's army in the Shenandoah Valley. The Confederates, led by Maj. Gen. Jeb Stuart, try to block their path. At each hill, they take a stand but are driven west beyond Upperville. Brig. Gen. Alfred Pleasanton's army of 7,000 absorbs more than 900 casualties. Stuart loses more than 600 of his 4,500 men. Union scouts finally climb the ridge, and Pleasanton notes that Lee is moving north. But Stuart's five-day screen of Lee's army has delayed the pursuing Federals.
1863: The largest army ever to enter Loudoun--nearly 100,000 Union troops, 35,000 horses and mules, 3,000 wagons and 67 artillery batteries--plods along Belmont Ridge en route to Gettysburg. For three days, June 25-27, they cross the Potomac at Edwards Ferry on two pontoon bridges. When the first units cross, the last are 85 miles distant.
After defeating the Confederate army at Gettysburg and dashing Southern chances for victory, a depleted Union army recrosses the county in mid-July, entering over pontoon bridges at Berlin and Harpers Ferry. Diarist Mary Cochran relates that when Loudouners complain of plundering, they are told, "Your men did so in Pennsylvania."
1864: Far to the south of Loudoun, Gen. Ulysses Grant's stronger armies drive Gen. Lee's forces west to Richmond and Petersburg. Lee orders Maj. Gen. Jubal Early to attack Washington, hoping to draw off some of Grant's army. Early harasses the capital's Maryland suburbs, but learning of Grant's approaching force, retreats into Loudoun on July 13.
His crossing place, White's Ford, had been a Confederate secret throughout the war. Here, men could walk across the Potomac on an Indian fish trap. But now, pursuing Federals find the secluded ford and cross on Early's heels, pursuing him westward along the Snickers' Gap Turnpike corridor. Heading through the gap on July 16, Early will soon be defeated by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley.
1864: After Early's army is in shambles, Grant orders Sheridan to "carry off the crops, animals and negroes, and all men under fifty capable of bearing arms. In this way you will get many of Mosby's men." Crossing Ashby's Gap in the Blue Ridge, from Nov. 28-Dec. 2, the raiders "drive off" 5,000 cattle, 3,000 sheep and 500 horses, and slaughter 1,000 "fatted hogs." They burn at least eight mills, 230 barns, 10,000 tons of hay and 25,000 bushels of grain. Pro-Union Quakers bear the brunt of many depredations.
"Prowling around pillaging, burning--carrying distress and desolation thro the country," writes Mary Cochran.
1865-1870: In August 1865, less than three months after the war's end, the federally mandated Freedmen's Bureau opens offices in Leesburg, and by July 1868, in Middleburg. The bureau's purpose is to help former slaves adjust to freedom and to negotiate farming contracts between blacks and whites. Soldiers enforce the bureau's edicts until Virginia is readmitted to the Union in 1870. There are few incidents, for local courts and elected officials accept the occupation.
CAPTION: A sketch of a June 17, 1863, engagement at Snickersville Pike. Nearly one-fifth of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry suffered casualties.
CAPTION: John Janney, of Leesburg, was president of the Richmond Convention that initially voted not to break from the Union but changed its mind after Fort Sumter. Janney voted against secession.
CAPTION: This map, drawn by Eugene M. Scheel, shows the battles and areas of Union sympathy in the county during the Civil War.