Civil War Sites Along The Trail

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Confederate outpost (Mile 3.6) Wilson Boulevard. Across Manchester Street, two signs mark the foot of the hill on which a Confederate fort overlooked the railroad in 1861, the high-water mark of the Confederacy here. Abandoned in August, 1861.

Maple Shade, 2230 N. Powhattan St. (Mile 4.9). During the skirmish of Munson Hill (September, 1861) a cannonball hit the dining room of this house. Cross over I-66 on Potomac Street bike bridge, two blocks on Quantico Street, cross Washington, right on 22nd St. N., left on bike path which becomes Powhattan.

Union cavalry used The Falls Church as both a hospital and a
The Falls Church. Photographer: Matthew Brady. Credit: Library of Congress.  
stable. The damage from this is still visible on the west door and on some windows. Northern troops vandalized the interior of the church. After the war, the federal government compensated the congregation for the damage done by its troops. (Mile 5.2, 1.5 miles off trail)

Confederate General Longstreet established his headquarters at Home Hill ( more photos from the HABS in 1967) (Mile 5.2, 1 mile off trail) in Falls Church after the battle of First Manassas but prior to the skirmish at Munson Hill (September, 1861). This was the high-water mark of the Confederacy in this area. In the attic of this house soldiers wrote their names and regiments on rafters.

Site of ambush of Union troop train, June, 1861. (Mile 11.4) Large, new sign at site. (Small marker at Park Street, Mile 11.5) An article in The Washington Times, June 20, 1992, describes this ambush.

Freeman House served as a brigade hospital during the War;
Freeman House, open on weekend afternoons. Source: This Was Vienna by Mayo Stuntz.
A U.S. Military Railroad train pulls into Vienna station, 1864. The station looks different than it does today because Southern Railroad remodeled the station in 1876. Photo credit: U.S. Army Military History, Carlisle Barracks  
open Saturdays, 12-4 p.m. and Sundays, 1-5, except January and February. (Mile 11.9)

Mile 11.4 (at Vienna train station). Union camp in Vienna, near railroad station. Note stockade. One block off the trail, behind the Vienna American Legion Post, is a star-shaped earthen fort, with an interpretive sign, at 330 N. Center Street. Dating from the Civil War, it protected the Union camp. From the Vienna train station, take Ayr Hill West 1 block to Center, turn right.


Confederates burned the bridge over Difficult Run (Mile 14.5) in 1861. No one rebuilt it until after the War.

10407 Hunter Station Road briefly served as a hospital for Lt. Col. Kane's Union cavalry. (Mile 14.9)

After the Battle of Chantilly (September, 1862), Robert E. Lee's Confederate army marched up Ox Road and Ridge Road. They crossed the railroad at what is today called Reston Parkway. (Mile 18.1) There they tore up the railroad, heating the rails until they twisted and ripping out ties. They then passed through Dranesville and forded the Potomac River into Maryland. This was part of the first invasion of the North, ending at the Battle of Antietam.

Frying Pan Church was the site of a skirmish, as well as a hospital and a rumoured meeting place of Mosby. Two miles south of trail. Call (703) 324-8675 to arrange a special guided tour. Mosby attacked Herndon itself, but was driven off.
"Reached Frying Pan Church, near which point a squadron of Young's Brigade [Confederates] , which was in our front, charged and captured a number of the enemy's picket [Federals]; and our own sharpshooters being thrown forward a brisk engagement ensued...."

--Maj. D. G. McIntosh, CSA, October 17, 1863



Kitty's Kitchen, 861 Monroe St. S., c. 1863, a house still standing. More on Kitty Kitchen Hanna on the trail, reportedly served as an eatery where Union officers purchased meals.

Mosby raided Herndon Station on March 17, 1863.

Ratcliffe-Hanna House, 1.7 miles south of Herndon depot. Once owned by Herndon's Civil War spy, Laura Ratcliffe. Larua was well known for greatly helping the Confederate cause. At 25 years old, she was a friend of General J.E.B. Stuart. She gathered military intelligence for him. He wrote numerous letters to her, including the poem, "To Laura." Stuart introduced her to Mosby, who credits Laura in his memoirs for saving his life in Herndon. Impoverished after the War, Laura married Milton Hanna, a Northerner, who built this house for them.

Ball's Bluff Battlefield. The most significant
Ball's Bluff flag at Harvard University  
Civil War site on the trail. (Mile 34.6) In Oct., 1861, shortly after the battle of First Manassas, this small battle bolstered the South's hopes and shattered the Union's goal of a quick end to the war. The battle was fought on the steep banks of the Potomac River. Preserved in a regional park, today these look almost as they did in 1861. Ball's Bluff has the second smallest National Cemetery in the United States. It also has a two-mile trail with ten interpretive signs. A future member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes, was wounded and captured at Ball's Bluff; he recovered in a hospital in one of the houses in Leesburg until the Confederates exchanged him. For a Southern perspective on the battle, see the history of the 17th Mississippi Regiment. For a Northern perspective, see the web site of the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Harrison House, in Leesburg, Lee's Headquarters during week before Antietam. On Sept. 5, 1862, Lee, Longstreet, Jackson and Stuart held a conference here (Mile 34.6)

East of Hamilton Mosby's cavalry clashed with Union infantry and cavalry on March 20, 1865. This engagement was typical of Mosby's skirmishes in that the combined casualties were small (for both sides, wounded, captured and killed were 31.)

Bullet holes are still visible in the Baptist church on High Street in Waterford, (Mile 38.6, 4 miles off trail) site of a skirmish. Also see the Civil War cemetery on Fairfax Street.

Ambush at Heaton's Crossroads, Trails sign at the Loudoun Valley High School, 340 N. Maple Ave., Purcellville. At Maple Ave. crossing of W&OD. Union cavalry attacked a column of Confederates under Gen. Jubal Early here July 16, 1864, after the Southerners ended their campaign into Maryland, which briefly threatened Washington DC. The attack captured or destroyed dozens of Confederate wagons, many of which were filled with booty from the campaign



This page was last modified Mar 12, 2007.

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