Civil War Era

Civil War Battle Flags

The Civil War at Dranesville

Because of its central location both Union and Confederate Armies often moved through the area. Dranesville was officially southern territory and was home to many confederate supporters. Mosby’s Raiders freely operated in Loudoun and Western Fairfax throughout the War.

In December of 1861 Southern Forces under the Command of Brigadier General J.E.B. Stuart met Northern forces commanded by Brigadier General E. O. C. Ord. The Battle of Dranesville was more a skirmish than a full-scale battle and occurred on December 20, 1861. Stuart led a brigade-sized force to protect a Confederate foraging action. Ord was sent to stop the Confederates and encountered Stuart’s forces in the area of Georgetown Pike. Stuart had arrived from the Centerville area up the Dranesville Ridge Road (now Reston Ave). Most of the fighting took place on the South side of Leesburg Pike around Sugarland Road, just downhill of the Methodist Church. Union forces set up four artillery pieces on the hillside at the junction of Georgetown Pike and Route 7. By all account, the artillery wreaked havoc on the Southern force. Stuart escaped with his supply wagons and suffered 230 dead and wounded, as compared to 71 by the Union force. It was a clear Union victory.

Later in September 1862, Southern troops under the command of General “Stonewall” Jackson camped in the Dranesville area on their way to the battle at Antietam. He knocked on the door of the Holly Knoll estate (the single remaining brick dwelling on property just west of Amberwoods, before Fairfax County Parkway), was beckoned to stay but returned to his troop encampment for the night. Union Troops were garrisoned in the area from November 1862 to March 1863. And, in June of 1863 Union troops marched through Dranesville on the way to Gettysburg.

The nearby Dranesville United Methodist Church (whose chimes we hear tolling the hour) began its existence as a “so called, Union Church.” The building was used for worship by several denominations. It started as a log structure in the late 1700s and was built on “Church Hill,” where it is presently located. During the Civil War it was known as the Liberty Meeting House. Soldiers wounded in the Battle of Dranesville were treated at the Church and Union forces used the building as a stable. In 1905 the Church filed a lawsuit, requesting compensation for rent and repairs and were granted $700 by the Court in 1906.