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

The Prussian Warrior Heros Von Borcke Goes Down

Battle of Middleburg/Mt. Defiance

The Prussian Warrior Heros Von Borcke Goes Down Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By T. Elizabeth Renich, June 1, 2019
1. The Prussian Warrior Heros Von Borcke Goes Down Marker
Inscription.  Johann August Heinrich Heros von Borcke stepped ashore in Charleston, South Carolina on May 24, 1862, having run the Union Navy’s blockade on a rebel blockade runner. He presented an imposing figure—muscular, standing 6’3” and weighing nearly 250 pounds. He came with an enormous Damascus broadsword with a 37-inch blade and two English pistols. A lieutenant in the 2nd Brandenburg Dragoons, this Prussian officer had taken leave to investigate the exciting tactics and strategy of J.E.B. Stuart’s world-renowned cavalry, evidence the world was watching America’s civil war with interest. Introduced to Stuart by Confederate States’ Secretary of War George Randolph, he was taken on as a volunteer aid and soon became General Stuart’s Chief of Staff and a favorite.

He was also wildly brave. Two days earlier, on June 17, 1863, von Borcke led General Beverly Robertson’s North Carolinians in a charge against Colonel Alfred Duffie’s 1st Rhode Island Cavalry on the south end of Middleburg, wielding that gigantic, terrifying broadsword. Now on June 19 during the fight at Mt. Defiance, he was again with the North Carolinians, standing
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near here along the Old Zulla Road after the charges of the 1st Maine and the 4th and 16th Pennsylvania cavalry had left the Carolinians in disarray. Helping to steady the Tar Heels as they fell back from the woods, he was joined by J.E.B. Stuart and other members of staff. The major, who emulated Stuart’s uniform including a plumed hat, made an obvious target for the Union troopers emerging from the trees. Just after a bullet skimmed across his leg, another bullet struck Von Borcke in the throat.

Captain William Blackford and Lieutenant Frank Robertson of Stuart’s staff rushed to Von Borcke’s side as he slid from his saddle. “I was at my wits’ end,” Blackford later explained, “to know how we were to throw our friend’s body, weighing two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, across the rearing, plunging charger… I then recollected a thing von Borcke had one told me… and I made a courier twist the horse’s ear severely and keep it twisted while he led the horse off the field with Von Borcke on him, the horse becoming perfectly quiet immediately.”

As Stuart’s cavalry retired a half-mile west to the next ridge at Bittersweet Farm, von Borcke was taken through the lines west to Upperville to the home of Stuart’s surgeon, Dr. Talcott Eliason, where he was stabilized. Later taken to Richmond, Von Borcke would recover—the bullet not removed—but
Heros Von Borcke Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By T. Elizabeth Renich, June 1, 2019
2. Heros Von Borcke Marker
he was never able to retake the field. Of his friend, Stuart would say, “His is a noble nature—I am proud to have been associated with him…”

Von Borcke returned home after the war. He left the Prussian Army in 1867 due to his wound, retiring to his inherited castle at Giesenbrugge in East Prussia (now Poland). It is said he delighted in flying the Confederate flag from the battlements until his death in 1895.

Heros Von Borcke Library of Congress
Erected 2019 by NOVA Parks. (Marker Number 6.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the NOVA Parks series list. A significant historical date for this entry is June 19, 1863.
Location. 38° 58.034′ N, 77° 45.759′ W. Marker is in Middleburg, Virginia, in Loudoun County. Marker can be reached from John Mosby Highway (U.S. 50) west of Zulla Road (Virginia Route 709), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 35945 John Mosby Highway, Middleburg VA 20117, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Battle Begins: Fighting East and Southeast of Mt. Defiance (within shouting distance of this marker); Mount Defiance (within shouting distance of this marker); Horse Artillery at Mt. Defiance
Heros von Borcke image. Click for full size.
3. Heros von Borcke
Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-120787]
(within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Mount Defiance (within shouting distance of this marker); Mt. Defiance, the Turnpike, and Middleburg (within shouting distance of this marker); Phase Two of the Battle: Fighting Along the Turnpike (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Battle Concludes: Buford's Flanking Movement & Stuart's Withdrawal (about 400 feet away); Battle of Middleburg (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Middleburg.
Also see . . .  Battle of Middleburg: Mt. Defiance Historic Park. NOVA Parks (Submitted on June 3, 2019.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 3, 2019. It was originally submitted on June 2, 2019, by T. Elizabeth Renich of Winchester, Virginia. This page has been viewed 431 times since then and 105 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 2, 2019, by T. Elizabeth Renich of Winchester, Virginia.   3. submitted on June 3, 2019, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 10, 2023