“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Vienna in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Terror by the Tracks

Terror by the Tracks Marker Photo, Click for full size
1. Terror by the Tracks Marker
Inscription. On October 18, 1864 Reverend John B. Read, a lay preacher at the Falls Church Baptist Church, was executed in dense pine woods by the railroad bridge here at Piney Branch. Early that morning a contingent of Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby's Partisan Rangers, led by Captain Richard Montjoy, conducted a raid on Falls Church looking for horses. Upon realizing an attack was underway, Read blew a horn to alert the Home Guard and Union pickets. As a result, Read and a black man, both members of the Home Guard, were taken prisoner.

Read was a spy for the Union and a well-known abolitionist. Mosby had warned him to confine his activities to church business or face dire consequences. Despite the threat, Read chose to follow his convictions.

Mrs. Read was grief-stricken when notified that her husband had been taken away and shot near Hunter's Mill. She could not get a guard of either Union Army soldiers or Home Guard members to go with her to recover her husband's body due to their fear of encountering Mosby's forces. While she was searching for help, a note arrived from Mosby giving Mrs. Read his personal guarantee of her safety while recovering the remains of her husband.

Following retrieval of Read's body, Major John Birdsall, 13th New York Cavalry, reported to his Brigade Headquarters that there was no doubt concerning
Terror by the Tracks Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, January 22, 2010
2. Terror by the Tracks Marker
Read's execution-style murder based on an examination made by an Army surgeon. The surgeon also noted an attempt to kill the black man. Having shot him in the head, the Rangers, supposing him dead, left him in the woods. Later he escaped with his life but with the loss of an ear.

Col. Mosby was both hated and respected by his enemies. He is once known to have said, "Being a terror to my enemies is an honor."

For many years after the war local legend held that children jumping rope would chant:
"Isn't any school,
Isn't any teacher;
Isn't any church,
Mosby shot the preacher."

Erected 2009 by Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, Friends of the W&OD Trail, and Hunter Mill Defense League.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad marker series.
Location. 38° 55.555′ N, 77° 17.326′ W. Marker is in Vienna, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from Hunter Mill Road (County Route 674), on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Located along the W&OD Trail, about a mile east of the intersection with Hunter Mill Road. The marker is also reached from the Clark's Crossing Road parking area. Marker is in this post office area: Vienna VA 22182, United States of America.
Other nearby markers.
Members of the Hunter Mill Defense League at the Marker Photo, Click for full size
November 21, 2009
3. Members of the Hunter Mill Defense League at the Marker
Members pose at the official unveiling of the marker in November 2009.
At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Springhouse (approx. 0.9 miles away); Strategic Junction (approx. one mile away); Hunterís Mill (approx. one mile away); Hunter Station (approx. one mile away); Crossroads to War (approx. one mile away); Cavalry Engagement near Hunter's Mill (approx. 1.2 miles away); Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (approx. 1.5 miles away); Civil War Star Fort (approx. 1.7 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Vienna.
More about this marker. The marker features portraits of Reverend Read, Capt. Montjoy, and Col. Mosby.
Also see . . .  Hunter's Mill Defense League. The League sponsored this marker. One of the organization's goals is to protect the scenic and historic character of the Hunter's Mill Road community. (Submitted on November 26, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
Categories. War, US Civil
Marker at the Old W&OD Bridge Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, January 22, 2010
4. Marker at the Old W&OD Bridge
Bridge Abutments Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, January 22, 2010
5. Bridge Abutments
Parts of the old railroad bridge support the bike and foot bridge on the rails-to-trails path today.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,361 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   4, 5. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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