Civil History

Civil History

Stevan Meserve, the author of "The Civil War in Loudoun County, Virginia: A History of Hard Times," firmly believes that it was a rare day between 1861 and 1865 when residents of the county wouldn’t hear a shot fired in anger.

"Until recently most people didn’t realize there were any more battles than the Battle of Balls Bluff but in the past few years there have been several books to come out discussing major battles in Loudoun between 1862 and 1863. The thing to surprise most people is simply how much troop movement and action there was in Loudoun County," he said.

TO HELP SHOW the rich Civil War history in the county Meserve, who has been interested in and studying the Civil War since his childhood, has in the past been leading tours around the county to significant historical spots. More recently though, in an effort to switch things around, he has been offering talks at Claude Moore Park, like the one coming up on May 10 about the role of the Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad. Each talk, which occur monthly, is focused on a different aspect of the Civil War in Loudoun and Meserve presents photos and documents along with talking about the history.

"It’s really an informal discussion and I encourage people to interrupt and ask questions and we always have a question-and-answer session at the end," he said.

Meserve says that Loudoun was a very pivotal location during the Civil War with troops moving through the county almost constantly thanks to it’s nearby location to both Union and Confederate areas. Topics are decided base on what seems most interesting and Meserve said that there are plenty of aspects on the war that can be discussed in the future. For this class though, the subject is the railroad and it’s importance to union troops in the area and in Washington, D.C.

"The railroad was largely put out of commission in 1861 but then the Union Army put it back in commission and used it to supply the troops in the area. They used it to take firewood and farm produce into DC. They moved a lot of wounded and sick troops into town. The government even built a new spur off the track," said Meserve.

Meserve believes that learning about Loudoun’s deep Civil War history is highly important so that we don’t lose it. Since it isn’t always the most discussed Civil War location, Meserve said we are quickly losing the history that surrounds us.

"The importance to the county is that we have lost a lot of significant historic sites because people didn’t know what happened there. Loudoun was a very pivotal location for the Civil War," said Meserve.

<1b>— Matthew Razak