Friday, June 22, 2012

The Battle of Lewinsville Gets a Marker!

Last month I wrote about the upcoming installation of a Civil War Trails marker on the 1861 Battle of Lewinsville.  Thanks to the Fairfax Civil War Facebook page, I learned on Wednesday night that the historical marker was being installed on Thursday.  So I grabbed my camera on the way out the door the next morning and stopped by Lewinsville Park after work to check out the new marker.  Call me crazy, but as readers know, I have written extensively about Lewinsville and have waited a long time to see the marker come to fruition.  The installation pre-dates the actual dedication ceremony by over a week.  Details of that event on July 1 can be found here.  Unfortunately, I have a prior commitment and will not be able to attend the ceremony.

Civil War Trails sign at entrance to Lewinsville Park, 1659 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, Virginia.  On September 11, 1861, a reconnaissance force under Col. Isaac Stevens proceeded down this road to the left, towards Lewinsville.  Around two in the afternoon, recall was sounded.   As the Union troops prepared for the return to camp, a much smaller Confederate force under Col. Jeb Stuart attacked from the area around today's Lewinsville Park.
The marker was installed inside Lewinsville Park, not far from a house in existence at the time of the engagement.  The well-researched text does a commendable job of explaining the battle in the limited space available, including mention of the famed 79th New York Highlanders and Thomas Rosser's Washington Artillery.  The accompanying maps, however, are a bit confusing.  Rather than showing the engagement from the vantage point of the viewer, facing south, the maps are drawn with the north at the top.

The new marker at Lewinsville Park
Photograph showing marker at edge of the parking lot at Lewinsville Park.  The marker looks south towards the location of the Gilbert House (now Meadowbrook), beyond the baseball field.  During the battle, Confederate artillery positioned to the southwest of the Gilbert House opened fire on the retiring Union soldiers. 

The community owes a debt of gratitude to Fairfax History Commissioner Carole Herrick and all those involved in the effort to erect this marker.  The Battle of Lewinsville has finally received the recognition that was missing for far too long.  And someday I hope that a couple more such markers dedicated to Camp Pierpont and Camp Griffin will join the Civil War Trails in McLean!


Chris Barry said...

Glad to know it's finally marked. It's a beautiful little site and the place where the 65th NY first saw a bit of action.

Richard said...

It's great to see a new marker, but that last picture with the baseball field in the background just seems so sad. I guess at least the presence of the marker is a positive and is more than a lot of fights or Civil War land get.

Ron Baumgarten said...


Glad I could share the news with you. I know what a Lewinsville "enthusiast" you are too!

Ron Baumgarten said...

I know what you mean. I have a feeling that Lewinsville Park was put in there a while ago to meet the growing suburban demand for Little League and soccer fields. If you go just beyond the marker, the Gilbert House sits in a field and at least gives some semblance of the skirmish site from 1861.

One of the reasons I and others in the McLean area are fighting so hard to keep Salona (site of Baldy Smith's HQ and a Vermont Brigade encampment) free of ballfields and dogparks is to avoid the site becoming just another Lewinsville Park.

Kim Todd said...

As a lifetime resident of McLean with an avid interest in history, I did not know the history of Lewinsville until I walked past that marker on my way to my child's soccer practice. The more these sites are used for current activities, the more they are abe to share their stories. In that context, I would love to see more historical events and activities planned in the house itself.

Ron Baumgarten said...


I am glad the marker helped to lead you to new discoveries. That is what is so wonderful about the Civil War Trails program. Incidentally, I am working on another marker for the McLean area concerning the Union Army camps. I agree with you that it would be nice to see more events in the park, including a living history event and lectures focused on the local "battles." I will bring it up with the McLean Historical Society.