RICHMOND — A judge on Thursday threw out a lawsuit brought by a group of Civil War history buffs, including a Democratic state senator, that had sought to prevent Fairfax County from removing a stone obelisk and state historical marker on the spot where Union and Confederate forces first exchanged fire on land.

Richmond Circuit Court Judge Margaret P. Spencer, presiding over a virtual hearing in the Fairfax Circuit Court case because all local judges had recused themselves, ruled that the plaintiffs lacked the legal right, or “standing,” to sue.

The finding sidestepped a broader issue that state Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax) and fellow plaintiffs had raised: Whether a new state law allowing localities to remove war monuments and memorials applies to seemingly neutral markers — not just the grand, glorifying “Lost Cause” tributes like those that lined Monument Avenue in Richmond until all but one were ordered removed by the mayor.

“There’s sort of a spectrum here. On one end you have Monument Avenue, erected on a city street to get attention,” said Petersen, who voted for the new law. “This is kind of the opposite end. Nobody’s being depicted. Nobody’s being glorified. It’s just a marker. … It’s very Orwellian that even the most neutral description of an event and the marker can be taken away.”

But county board members have wondered whether the obelisk and marker, which both note the first Confederate fatality, are as neutral as supporters contend. They also say their location, at the site of the county’s modern-day courthouse, is especially problematic.

“I’m glad we were able to move forward and ensure that at the courthouse — our place of fair justice — we are intentionally ensuring that symbols matter and that we want to chart a more positive course forward,” Jeff C. McKay, the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said in a written statement to The Washington Post.

Petersen, a lawyer, represented himself in the case along with five fellow members of the Bull Run Civil War Round Table, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Civil War history in Northern Virginia. The organization itself also was a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Petersen said no decision had been made about appealing the ruling.

The suit also had claimed that the county board, which plans to take a final vote on the matter at a meeting Tuesday, did not properly notify the public about its plans — something McKay disputed.

“The Board acted entirely within the guidelines that the General Assembly enacted,” McKay said in his written statement.

The stone obelisk was erected on the grounds of the Fairfax County Courthouse in 1904. The state historical marker, like those posted along highways, was added in 2009. Both commemorate the skirmish that erupted on the site on June 1, 1861, just weeks after the Confederate artillery assault on Fort Sumter, which stands on an island in the harbor in Charleston, S.C.

“This stone marks the scene of the opening conflict of the War of 1861-1865, when John Q. Marr, Cpt. of the Warrenton Rifles, who was the first soldier killed in action, fell 800 ft, 46 degrees west of this spot, June 1st 1861,” the obelisk reads.

The marker says: “First Confederate Officer Killed: In the early morning hours of June 1, 1861, a detachment of Company B. U.S. Second Cavalry entered the Town of Fairfax Courthouse and engaged the Warrenton Rifles in the first land conflict of organized military units in the Civil War. The skirmish resulted in the death of Capt. John Quincy Marr, who was struck down by a stray bullet, the first Confederate officer killed in the Civil War. Marr’s body was found at daybreak near this location.”

Julie V. Langan, the director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, had written to the board ahead of its Sept. 15 vote, saying that “historical markers under the Virginia Historic Highway Markers Program are neither monuments nor memorials” and therefore are not subject to the new law, according to the suit, which attached the letter as an exhibit.

The suit asserted that language on the obelisk was unusually straightforward for historical markers or monuments of the time.

“It did not use the word ‘Confederate’ or even ‘war between the states’ as nearly every other courthouse marker of that era did,” the suit said. “It simply marked the ground where the ‘War of 1861-1865’ began and the first soldier was killed in action. In fact, the Obelisk was unique for that time frame for the absence of any ‘Lost Cause’ imagery or verbiage.”

Petersen said he recognized that the issue of legal standing was “going to be a high hill to climb.”

The senator grew up one block south of the courthouse on property his family still owns. He is a descendant of Thomas Moore, the former county clerk of court who was present at the skirmish and helped raise funds for the obelisk.

Petersen and fellow plaintiffs contended that they “will suffer an injury unlike that suffered by the general public as they are personally and corporately interested in the preservation of Civil War history and historic sites.”