Battle of Dranesville

Battle of Dranesville (HM1D3Z)

Location: Herndon, VA 20170 Fairfax County
Buy Virginia State flags at!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at!

N 39° 0.498', W 77° 21.634'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites

"First Federal Victory South of the Potomac"

In the fall of 1861, Fairfax County found itself between two large armies. Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and his army occupied the Centreville area. The Federal army, still regrouping after the devastating defeat at the First Battle of Manassas, manned the growing line of fortifications protecting Washington, D.C. Union morale was low, and a battlefield victory was desperately needed.

Learning that Confederates were harassing Unionists near Dranesville, Gen. George McCall ordered Gen. Edward O. C. Ord with his Pennsylvania infantry and artillery forward to that place on December 19. Simultaneously, Confederate Gen J.E.B. Stuart received orders to protect Confederate foraging parties gathering supplies for the winter, and marched toward Dranesville on Centreville Road (now Reston Avenue). On December 20, Ord's troops arrived at the intersection of the Georgetown and Leesburg Turnpikes, a mile in front of you, where they took up defensive positions on a ridge facing south with the intersection at the center. When Stuart's infantry and cavalry arrived, he quickly discovered the strength of the Federal position.

After repeated attacks and significant losses from artillery fire, Stuart ordered a retreat southward. Casualties totaled 68 Federals and 194 Confederates. Ord returned to the Union lines, and Stuart came back to the battlefield the next day to recover his dead and wounded.

Although each side claimed victory at Dranesville, the Federals achieved their first tactical success against the Confederates in Virginia. The engagement was small compared to future battles but boosted Union morale. U.S. Secretary of War Simon Cameron wrote afterward, "It is one of the bright spots that give assurance of the success of coming events."

(sidebar below map) Dranesville Tavern, built about 1820 was a popular stopping place for weary travelers and drovers taking livestock and farm produce to the Alexandria, Georgetown, and Washington, D.C. markets via the Leesburg Turnpike. It was described in 1865 as "one of the best roadside inns in the State of Virginia." The tavern was moved about 125 feet southwest to its current location in 1968 because of the widening of the Leesburg Turnpike. It is restored to its 1850 appearance.
HM NumberHM1D3Z
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 20th, 2014 at 10:44am PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 295606 N 4320348
Decimal Degrees39.00830000, -77.36056667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 0.498', W 77° 21.634'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 0' 29.88" N, 77° 21' 38.04" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)703, 571
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 11965-11985 Leesburg Pike, Herndon VA 20170, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. What historical period does the marker represent?
  2. What historical place does the marker represent?
  3. What type of marker is it?
  4. What class is the marker?
  5. What style is the marker?
  6. Does the marker have a number?
  7. What year was the marker erected?
  8. This marker needs at least one picture.
  9. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  10. Is the marker in the median?