Fairfax, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Fairfax County Courthouse
War on the Courthouse Grounds
On April 25, 1861, the Fairfax Riflemen (CS) were organized here, and on May 23, voters here ratified the Ordinance of Secession, 151 to 8. Before dawn on June 1, Lt. Charles Tompkins led the 2nd New York Cavalry in an unsuccessful attack on three Confederate units here. Capt. John Quincy Marr, Warrenton Rifles, died—the first Confederate officer killed in the war.
The courthouse changed hands that summer, when Gen. Irvin McDowell raised the U.S. flag atop it on July 17. The Confederate flag replaced the Stars and Stripes five days later during the Union retreat after the First Battle of Manassas. On October 3, following a conference of Confederate leaders in the courthouse, President Jefferson Davis reviewed 30,000 troops here.
When the Confederates evacuated northern Virginia in March 1862, Union Gen. George B. McClellan launched his campaign to capture Richmond from his headquarters nearby on March 14. In December, Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, 16th Vermont Infantry, took “peaceable possession” of the clerk’s office and the courthouse, which was used for storage. He wrote that “windows were broken
On March 9, 1863, Lt. John S. Mosby and his Rangers stole into a nearby Union camp and night and kidnapped Gen. Edwin H. Stoughton in the war’s most audacious act here.
“We are just encamped in the public square of the court house which is full of large shade trees and make it an excellent and beautiful camping ground.” – Lt. Col. David Thomson, 82nd Ohio Infantry, March 1862
(Sidebar): Fairfax County’s most prized document, George Washington’s will, was removed from the courthouse for safekeeping in June 1861, but Martha Washington’s will was left behind. Taken by Lt. Col. David Thomson, 82nd Ohio Infantry, and later sold to financier J.P. Morgan, the will was not returned until 1920. After the war, county officials quickly voted to put the courthouse “in suitable condition” for holding court. In the 1960s, the building’s exterior was restored to the original 1800 architectural design. The courthouse, Fairfax County’s oldest public building, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Erected 2011 by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 38° 50.763′ N, 77° 18.419′ W. Marker is in Fairfax, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Main Street (Virginia Route 236) near Chain Bridge Road (Virginia Route 123). Touch for map. Marker is on the grounds of the old Fairfax County Courthouse. Marker is in this post office area: Fairfax VA 22030, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fairfax Court House (here, next to this marker); A Tribute to The Men of Fairfax County (a few steps from this marker); Monument to John Q. Marr (a few steps from this marker); Joshua Gunnell House (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Fairfax Jail (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Fairfax Court House (within shouting distance of this marker); Ralston's Store (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Nickell's Hardware (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fairfax.
More about this marker. On the left side of the marker is a portrait of Confederate Capt. John Quincy Marr-Courtesy Virginia Military Institute. On the bottom of the marker is a photo captioned Army of the Potomac at the courthouse, June 1863. The cupola was used as a signaling station. Shortly after
Also see . . .
1. Fairfax County Courthouse. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form (.pdf) (Submitted on June 5, 2011.)
2. Historic Fairfax County Courthouse. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Submitted on June 5, 2011.)
3. John Quincy Marr (1825-1861). From Find A Grave.com (Submitted on June 5, 2011.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 5, 2011. This page has been viewed 1,510 times since then and 72 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 5, 2011. 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 28, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.