In the Wake of Antietam
After the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia escaped to Virginia. President Abraham Lincoln repeatedly urged Union Gen. George B. McClellan to pursue and attack. Following a plan that Lincoln devised to trap Lee's army in the Shenandoah Valley, McClellan finally got his Army of the Potomac moving. On November 1, Union cavalry Gen. Alfred Pleasonton began leading the advance from Philomont toward Upperville. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry delayed him for three days. On November 5, learning that Lee's army had evaded the trap and reached Culpeper County, Lincoln ordered McClellan relieved of command.
On Saturday morning, November 1, 1862, Union Gen. Alfred Pleasonton with 1,200 cavalrymen and an artillery battery paused here in Philomont. He planned to push south and reach Upperville by evening. He ordered 22 male residents into the nearby Roszell Chapel Methodist Church to your left to take the oath of loyalty to the United States. Suddenly the sound of cannons was heard. The Federals rushed off toward the North Fork ford half a mile in front of you to engage the Confederates who had come up from Unison (also called Union). The two sides hotly exchanged cannon and rifle fire from ridges on either side of the stream for the rest of the day. Meeting more opposition than he expected, Pleasonton was reinforced with 1,200 infantrymen and another artillery battery that night.
On Sunday morning, November 2, his column marched down present-day J.E.B. Stuart Road (in front of you) toward Unison and Uppervile, to the strains of a brass band.
"John Smith, will you take this oath of allegiance to the government of the United States? ...
[Smith:] Can you guarantee me the protection of the United States? If so, I will take the oath. If not, I prefer waiting the result of the war. If the United States conquer the South, I shall become a United States citizen; if not, I shall remain under southern rule."
- The (N.Y.) World, reported from Philomont, November 6, 1862