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

Laura Ratcliffe

Civil War Spy


— Virginia Civil War Trails —

Laura Ratcliffe Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, November 22, 2018
1. Laura Ratcliffe Marker
Inscription.  Laura Ratcliffe, a spy for noted Confederate officers J.E.B. Stuart and John S. Mosby, lived here at Merrybrook after the Civil War. It is the only known remaining house associated with her. During the war, she lived two-and-a-half miles south of here.

Ratcliffe first met Stuart on December 21, 1861, while nursing wounded soldiers at his headquarters, "Camp Qui Vive," the day after the Battle of Dranesville. Her "beauty, pleasant nature, and helpfulness" captivated Stuart, who wrote her letters and poems to enlist her aid in providing information to help the Confederate cause. A year later, when Stuart was at her house and Ratcliffe complained of the difficulties of "living in conquered territory," he told her he was planning to leave Mosby with some men to "look after the loyal Confederate people here." Mosby with nine men, inaugurated the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry, or Mosby's Rangers, the next day, December 30, 1862.

In February 1863, a detachment of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry hid in a pine grove near Ratcliffe's house to kill or capture Mosby. When a Union soldier boasted of the plan to her, she walked through
Laura Ratcliffe Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, November 22, 2018
2. Laura Ratcliffe Marker
Click or scan to see
this page online
the mud to Herndon with her sister and warned Mosby. He changed his plans and noted that without her warning "my life as a partisan would have closed that day."

Laura Ratcliffe lived to the age of 87 and died here in 1923. At the time of her death, she was a local legend and still considered beautiful.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: War, US CivilWomen. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is December 21, 1861.
Location. 38° 57.249′ N, 77° 24.487′ W. Marker is in Herndon, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker is on Arrowbrook Centre Drive west of Centreville Road (Virginia Route 657), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Herndon VA 20171, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Story of Arrowhead Farm (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Laura Ratcliffe (approx. 0.4 miles away); Historical Site of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church (approx. 0.6 miles away); Mosby’s Rock (approx. 0.7 miles away); Pin Oak (approx. one mile away); Frying Pan Meeting House (approx.
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
one mile away); a different marker also named Frying Pan Meeting House (approx. one mile away); Civil War at Frying Pan Spring Meeting House (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Herndon.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 16, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 22, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 496 times since then and 103 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 22, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

Share this page.  
Share on Tumblr

CeraNet Cloud Computing sponsors the Historical Marker Database.
Paid Advertisements

Sep. 28, 2022