Today I took the family to Colvin Run Mill Historic Site run by the Fairfax County Park Authority. The site is located along what used to be an old wagon road connecting Alexandria to the Shenandoah Valley. This road was used by the British in 1755 on their way to capture Fort Duquesne (the site of present-day Pittsburgh). George Washington originally owned the land and intended to build a mill there, but his plans were overtaken by other, well-known events. In 1811, William Sheppard finally built a mill along Colvin Run and sold it to Philip Carter from Frederick County, Maryland.
Colvin Run Mill (c. 1811)
Miller's House (c. 1809)
Readers might be wondering what all of this has to do with the Civil War. Not surprisingly, I dug a little deeper and discovered that during the War of the Rebellion, the mill was owned by John Powell, who bought the property in 1842 and held it throughout the Civil War. The war devastated local farming in Fairfax County. This downturn in agricultural activity severely impacted the mill, which used grain from local farmers to make flour. Powell's business never recovered, and in 1872 he filed for bankruptcy. The mill was on the market until 1883, when purchased by the Millard family from Maryland. This story just goes to show that no aspect of civilian life in Fairfax County was left untouched by the Civil War.