The War Returns to Loudoun: Looking at the Loudoun Valley fights

I’m looking about a month out of the sesquicentennial schedule here, but there’s a couple of events coming at the start of November worth plugging into the calendar.   My title is a bit misleading, as even I would contend that the war never left Loudoun, Virginia in 1862.  Both sides sparred with regularity through the early fall during the lull after Antietam.  Stuart brought his cavalry back across the Potomac after his second ride around McClellan in the middle of the month.  But the war activity picked up when the Federals began movement into Loudoun Valley at the close of October.

Once into Loudoun, a series of cavalry fights occurred as the Federals advanced. I find these little known fights rather interesting for several reasons.  In some ways, the fighting resembled that which would occur eight months later in the same area, just oriented north-south instead of east-west.  The actions involved many of the same personalities and units engaged the following year.  Federal cavalry was, arguably for the first time in the war, employed as cavalry is supposed to fight.  As such, I’ve argued the Loudoun Valley cavalry actions were the first indications that Federal arm was gaining on their Confederate counterparts.  If you really want to appreciate what happened at places like Kelly’s Ford, Brandy Station, Hanover, Gettysburg, and beyond, you should start with the cavalry clashes of November 1862.

Looking a month out, there are three events that will focus attention on the Loudoun Valley fights of 1862.

On October 27, the annual Unison Heritage Day will focus on the fighting that took place around that community.   Hosted by the Unison Preservation Society, the event includes a tour and talk by battle historian Mitch Diamond, recreations of portions of the battle, living history displays, and a lot of less martial activities.  The date is not, strictly speaking, on the 150th of the battle, but close enough.

A few days later, on November 1, the Loudoun Sesquicentennial Committee, the Snickersville Turnpike Association, the Mosby Heritage Area Association, and Camp 21 – Sons of Confederate Veterans are hosting “Fighting at Philomont!” The event starts at 7:30 PM at the Roszell Chapel Methodist Church, 37141 Snickersville Turnpike, in Philomont.  Historian Brian Boucher presents “The Aftermath of Antietam: The War Returns to Loudoun”  The talk is preceded by lasagna dinner at the Philomont Firehouse.  Cost is $10 for adults and $6 for children.

Then on November 2, the Mosby Heritage Area Association hosts “From Unison to Fredericksburg” presented by historian Frank O’Reilly, at the Unison Methodist Church.  That talk starts at 7:30 PM.  I don’t have details as to admission or other logistics at this time.

Good to see the Loudoun Valley fights of 1862 getting their due this sesquicentennial.



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