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 Sunday morning, November 2, 1862, the peaceful service here at Unison United Methodist Church was suddenly disrupted. First came the faint sounds of a Union band playing "Listen to the Mockingbird" and then the sounds of combat. Union Gen. Alfred Pleasonton with 2,500 cavalry and infantry and 12 cannons was marching down Unison Road from Philomont. Residents cowered as the fight swirled through the village.
Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was waiting. He had posted most of his 900 cavalrymen near the crossroads 200 yards to your right. His six cannons, under Maj. John Pelham, fired from the field across the road. Artillery from both sides bombarded the village, and armed men clashed in the streets. Col. Heros von Borke, Stuart's aide, described the scene as "furious flames... dense volumes of smoke ... terror and confusion .. truly frightful." After an hour, Stuart withdrew, reestablished his line 1,000 yards to your left, and delayed Pleasonton's advance for two more hours. He repeated this tactic until dark. As the fight moved south, the church became a Union hospital. Confederates were treated in the Keene house across the road.