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


From Paradise to Peril

— Antietam and Gettysburg Campaigns —

Leesburg - From Paradise to Peril Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, February 12, 2007
1. Leesburg - From Paradise to Peril Marker
Inscription.  “Leesburg! Paradise of the youthful warrior! Land of excellent edibles and beautiful maidens!” — so wrote a Confederate artilleryman in late 1861. A year later, a northern correspondent found Leesburg a weary town full of battle-scarred buildings and wary inhabitants.

A prosperous Southern town of about 2000 at the outbreak of the Civil War, Leesburg was strategically located on the border between the Union and Confederacy. By war’s end, the town had endured bombardment, the passage of Union and Confederate armies, Federal occupation, disintegration of civil authority, frequent raids and multiple combats in its streets.

More information on the Civil War in Leesburg and Loudoun County can be found at The Loudoun Museum.

The following selected chronology gives some idea of the danger and uncertainty of life in Civil War Leesburg.

Secession Vote (May 23, 1861) – Leesburg men support the Virginia Secession Ordinance, voting in favor 400-22.

Citizens Enlist (April-May 1861) – The Loudoun Artillery, Leesburg Cavalry (Co. A, 6th Va. ), Loudoun Guard
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(Co. C., 17th Va. Infantry) and Potomac Greys (Co. H, 8th Va. Infantry) muster into Confederate service.

Battle of Ball’s Bluff (October 21, 1861) – Many local men of the 8th Va. are casualties. Wounded of both sides are placed in homes and public buildings. Union prisoners are held on the courthouse lawn. Cavalry corporal Elijah V. White, a local farmer, engineered the capture of 350 Union soldiers. Today, visitors to the battlefield in northeast Leesburg can see the country’s smallest national cemetery, learn about this pivotal battle and hike interpreted trails.

Confederate Forts (Winter, 1861-1862) – Gen. D. H. Hill oversees the completion of Forts Evans, Beauregard, and Johnston on the heights surrounding Leesburg. The Richmond Howitzers and Mississippi troops build winter camps.

Confederate Evacuation (March 4, 1862) – Supplies, mills, bridges and other items helpful to the Union are burned as Confederate forces fall back on Richmond.

Union Occupation (March, 1862) – Union troops under Col. John Geary seize Leesburg. Geary orders impressments of citizens into the Union army. Many Southerners take the oath of allegiance to avoid impressments.

Mile Hill Fight (September 2, 1862) – Col. Thomas Munford and the 2nd Va. Cavalry surprise and route a mixed Federal
Map Shown on Marker image. Click for full size.
2. Map Shown on Marker
force composed of Cole’s Maryland Cavalry and the Loudoun Rangers.

Army of Northern Virginia (September 4-6, 1862) – Gen. Robert E. Lee leads his army through Leesburg on the way to Maryland (campaign that ended with the Battle of Antietam.) Lee holds a conference with Gens. Jackson, Longstreet, and Stuart at his headquarters in the Harrison home on North King Street.

The Shelling (September 14, 1862) – Union Col. Judson Kilpatrick bombards Leesburg after encountering Capt. Elijah V. White’s Comanches (35th Battalion Va. Cavalry). Subsequently the Federals charge into Leesburg. After a sharp fight, in which White is badly wounded, both sides retreat.

Army of the Potomac (post-Antietam, Fall 1862 and pre-Gettysburg, Jun 1863) – The Union Army of the Potomac crossed Loudoun County three times, each time sending forces through Leesburg. Between June 17 and 28, 1863, more than 100,000 troops crossed the Potomac at Edwards Ferry east of Leesburg. On June 19 three Union soldiers were executed in town for desertion.

Early’s Army (June 13-16, 1864) – After his raid on Washington, Gen. Jubal Early’s Confederate Army crossed back into Virginia at White’s Ford. Union Gen. H. C. Wright’s Sixth Corps caught up with them at Leesburg, shelling Early’s rear guard while cavalry patrols clashed.

Markers in front of Museum image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, April 28, 2007
3. Markers in front of Museum
Rangers (January 1863-April 1865)
– During the last two years of the war, Federal cavalry made frequent raids on Leesburg in search of Col. John Mosby’s Partisan Rangers, often with deadly results. On one occasion in 1864, the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry hoped to surprise Confederates at a wedding in town. Arriving at night the Federals were ambushed instead, with two killed and several wounded.
Erected by Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is June 17, 1863.
Location. 39° 6.884′ N, 77° 33.979′ W. Marker is in Leesburg, Virginia, in Loudoun County. Marker is on Loudoun Street SW, on the right when traveling west. Located at the Loudoun County Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 16 Loudoun Street, Leesburg VA 20175, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1862 Antietam Campaign (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Leesburg (within shouting distance of this marker); Stanley Caulkins (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Old Stone Church Site (about 500 feet away); 7 Loudoun Street Southeast
Cabin at Loudoun Museum image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, February 12, 2007
4. Cabin at Loudoun Museum
The Museum is the tan building on the left.
(about 500 feet away); Loudoun County Courthouse (about 600 feet away); In Memory of the Heroic Dead (about 700 feet away); Our Glorious Dead (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leesburg.
More about this marker. The marker displays a picture of Elijah V. White, a Confederate officer who operated extensively in the Leesburg area, and a newspaper drawing depicting the execution of Federal deserters. A small map indicates local parks and sites of interest.
Also see . . .
1. Welcome to the Loudoun Museum. (Submitted on June 8, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Loudoun County - Divided in the Civil War. (Submitted on July 25, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Additional keywords. Civil War Trails
Elijah V. White's Grave Site in Union Cemetery image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, July 12, 2007
5. Elijah V. White's Grave Site in Union Cemetery
“Col. Elijah V. White, born Aug. 29, 1832, died Jan 11, 1907. He was a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He took unto himself the whole armour of God. He endured hardness and fought a good fight. He has been given the crown of righteousness laid up for him in glory.”
Confederate Memorial in Union Cemetery image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, July 12, 2007
6. Confederate Memorial in Union Cemetery
Inscription on the East Face: HAUD PLURIBUS IMPAR [Latin motto meaning “Incomparable”]. At Ball’s Bluff, near this town on the threshold of Virginia and the Confederacy, the invading army of the North was, on Oct. 21st 1861, utterly defeated and driven into the Potomac. This monument is erected to the memory of those who died in defense of the Lost Cause by their late comrades in arms and a grateful and admiring people. Oct 21st, 1877.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 8, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,905 times since then and 10 times this year. Last updated on July 4, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. Photos:   1. submitted on June 8, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on June 8, 2007.   3. submitted on June 8, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   4. submitted on June 8, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   5, 6. submitted on July 14, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 24, 2024