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Purcellville in Loudoun County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Ambush at Purcellville
“…we found in the road many broken down and burned wagons…”
 
Ambush at Purcellville Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, January 6, 2007
1. Ambush at Purcellville Marker
 
Inscription. Crossing this school site, the Loudoun and Berlin Turnpike once intersected the Leesburg & Snicker’s Gap Turnpike at a junction just ahead known as Heaton’s Crossroads. On Saturday, July 16, 1864, Gen. Jubal A. Early’s Confederate army passed through this crossroads as it retired west of the Shenandoah Valley after its daring attack on the northwestern defenses of Washington.

Although Union forces shelled Early and doggedly pursued him after departing Leesburg that morning, his destination remained a mystery to the Federals. Alfred N.A. Duffié sent the 300 men of Col. William B. Tibbetts’ 21st New York Cavalry from Harpers Ferry in pursuit, and they found Early’s wagon train passing by here in mid-afternoon. Dividing his force into several detachments, Tibbetts attacked furiously all along the train. In a matter of minutes, the Federals had captured some 200 wagons and 150 prisoners. Hearing the firefight, Confederate infantry under Gens. Robert E. Rodes and Stephen D. Ramseur marched on the double-quick from the rear, counterattacking with cavalry and artillery support. Before long, the Confederates successfully reclaimed 118 of their wagons and all but 54 of those men captured. Still, the Federals sent back to Harpers Ferry 37 wagons of booty taken by Early in Maryland.

Seeing the last of Early’s forces pass through,
 
The marker in the corner of the Loudoun Valley School parking lot Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, June 18, 2007
2. The marker in the corner of the Loudoun Valley School parking lot
 
curious Purcellville citizens flocked to view the damage at Heaton’s Crossroads. Some 43 destroyed Confederate wagons lined the road, still smoldering, evidence of a war come home to roost.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 39° 8.411′ N, 77° 42.219′ W. Marker is in Purcellville, Virginia, in Loudoun County. Marker is on North Maple Avenue north of East Main Street (Business Virginia Route 7), on the right when traveling east. Click for map. The marker is on the west side of the Loudoun Valley High School parking lot. Between the athletic fields and the school building. Marker is at or near this postal address: 340 N. Maple Ave., Purcellville VA 20132, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Electric Trains on the W&OD (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Tracks into History (approx. half a mile away); Mother of the Wright Brothers (approx. 0.6 miles away); Purcellville Station (approx. 0.7 miles away); Beyond Purcellville (approx. 0.7 miles away); Loudoun County Emancipation Association Grounds (approx. 0.9 miles away); Loudoun Branch, Manassas Gap Railroad (approx. 1.6 miles away); Goose Creek Friends 1765 Meeting House (approx. 1.7 miles away); Goose Creek Friends 1817 Meeting House (approx. 1.7 miles away); Goose Creek Friends (approx. 1.7 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Purcellville.
 
Historical Site of Heaton's Cross Roads Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, June 18, 2007
3. Historical Site of Heaton's Cross Roads
Looking across the school athletic field, the historical location of the cross roads was between here and the buildings in the background.
 

 
More about this marker. On the lower left is a 19th century map showing "Purcellville and its environs, 1864." Portraits of Gens. Early and Duffie are above a map showing the movements of Early's 1864 Raid on Washington.
 
Regarding Ambush at Purcellville. The ground where the skirmish and events described on the marker have been lost to time with the expansion of the town. The place name Heaton’s Crossroads is used from historical reports.
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on June 3, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,852 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on June 3, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2, 3. submitted on June 18, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.
 
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