Union Gateway to Virginia

After Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston withdrew his army from northern Virginia in March 1862 to defend Richmond, neither Confederate nor Union force occupied Loudoun County permanently. Both armies, however, often passed through. The Confederates' favorite Potomac River crossings were downstream: White's Ford, Edwards Ferry, and Rowser's Ford. The Federals preferred Berlin (present-day Brunswick), Maryland, three miles north of here.

The Army of the Potomac crossed into Lovettsville after the September 1862 Battle of Antietam. Union Gen. Alfred Pleasonton's cavalry and Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's IX Corps occupied the town, which army nurse Sara Emma Edmonds described as "a pretty little village reminding one of New England," on October 26. A New York newspaper correspondent, however, called it "a dreary little Virginia village." Burnside spent the night in the hotel located on this spot. The rest of the army soon followed, and its commander, Gen. George B. McClellan, inspected his troops here on the evening of October 28, after telegraphing President Abraham Lincoln, "I go to Lovettsville in a few minutes." The army returned in 1863, marching through Lovettsville after the Battle of Gettysburg.

On April 21, 1865, Federal restrictions on trade between Loudoun County and Maryland Unionists were lifted. On May 3, in Lovettsville, the 25th New York Cavalry conducted what the New York Sunday Mercury called "the first hoisting of the Stars and Stripes in the County of Loudoun since the outbreak of the Rebellion." The "immense crowd" included returning Unionist refugees and a military band. A celebratory ball was held here in the hotel that evening.