Well, 150 years ago today (September 4, 1862), a good portion of the Army of Northern Virginia marched into Leesburg just a couple blocks away from my front porch. There were no trees or houses in the way back then, so I could have watched the procession (although I my front porch was not around back then either). Generals Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, and Stuart were among the ranking officers arriving in town. But Lee was not on Traveler. No he’d suffered from a fall. With both wrists bandaged, he was riding in an ambulance.
Only couple days before, on September 2, Colonel Thomas Munford’s 2nd Virginia Cavalry mauled the Loudoun Rangers and Cole’s Maryland Cavalry in the battle of Mile Hill just north of town.
The Confederates were in full possession of Leesburg for the first time since the the spring.
On September 4, the Army of Northern Virginia camped around Leesburg and setup hospitals in town. Jackson’s wing camped north of town. And Jackson himself conducted a survey of the Potomac River crossing points in the area. A rather obscure ford, later named after one of his cavalry men, Elijah V. White, received a lot of attention.
Normally, I’d say those events – a cavalry fight, the arrival of an army, or the scouting of the crossing point – would be the highlighted sesquicentennial event for this post. But, no… I’ve saved the best for last.
On September 5, Lee summoned his key subordinates and staff to his headquarters at Harrison Hall. There, the generals worked out the plan to take the war north of the Potomac. In that meeting, the leadership of the Army of Northern Virginia transitioned from the successful Northern Virginia Campaign into the Maryland Campaign. One campaign ended and another began 150 years ago tomorrow.
If you are around Leesburg tomorrow evening, and you want a chance to “touch” history, stop by the old Courthouse. The Loudoun Sesquicentennial Committee is hosting tours of the Glenfiddich House, which was Harrison Hall at the time of the war. I have the great honor of being the guide assigned to orient visitors to THE ROOM where the meeting took place.
After the tours, historian Tom Clemens speaks about the origins for Lee’s plans for the Maryland Campaign. More details are posted on the Loudoun Civil War Roundtable site and the Loudoun Sesquicentennial website. Hope to see you there!