Warrenton, VirginiaThe Illustrated London News, vol. 42, no. 1205, p. 598.
May 30, 1863
Next to Fredericksburg, the only place of any importance included within the area of the late four days' battles in Virginia is Warrenton, sometimes called Warrington.
This town is the capital of Fauquier (pronounced Forkeer) County, and has three or four thousand inhabitants. It has for many years been a fashionable resort during the summer, on account of the mineral springs in its neighbourhood. It is noted for its healthfulness and its beautiful scenery near the Blue Ridge mountains. It is about twelve miles from the Gordonsville, Culpepper, and Manassas Railroad, at the termination of a branch leading directly to the town. At this point the engagement took place between the Federal Colonel De Forrest, and the Confederate cavalry under Colonel Moseley, known as the "Black Horse Cavalry," and which was first organised in Fauquier County. It was probably merely a skirmish, or surprise, though variously described as a "reconnaissance," a "heavy fight," and a "terrific charge;" in which "the rebels were scattered in every direction."
Warrenton has been for a whole year in the miserable plight of a border town held alternately by friends and foes. After the evacuation of Manassas and all that section of Virginia by the Confederate army, it was held by the Federals. For a time its beautiful residences became hospitals and soldiers' quarters; and its fields and gardens were laid waste. Then, again, Confederate successes drove the Northern forces from the neighbourhood. The whole of Fauquier County is now almost cleared of provisions, the land has remained uncultivated, those of the inhabitants who could afford to seek other homes have long since done so, while the poor have been compelled to remain, and to suffer all the miserable privations of war.
Warrenton is sixteen miles west of the battle-ground of Bull Run, twenty-two from Centreville, and about twenty south of Leesburg. It is situated on a high and varied range of hills, which, however, are low in comparison with its beautiful background of mountains. The principal residences are detached, and surrounded by trees and gardens. It has six or seven small churches, the handsomest of which is the Episcopal church, seen in the centre of our Engraving. To the right, the flag is waving from the cupola of the Courthouse, which is situated in the principal street of the town proper.
Warrenton has always supported excellent schools, and boasted a large and handsome new college, where the education of young ladies was conducted by professors of acknowledged ability.
To the left of the Engraving is the railroad, which terminates about 100 yards beyond the little wooden bridge--one of those slight structures so much more easily burned or destroyed than replaced in these troublous times.
Fauquier County has been distinguished for the refinement of its society and for being the birthplace of many eminent Virginians. The late ex-President Tyler, ex-Governor Smith, the Scotts, the Ashbys, and Captain Marr, the first victim of the present war, were natives of this county.
Like most other American towns, Warrenton occupies a wide extent of land for the number of its inhabitants. The shanty and the cornfield, with the decaying stumps of the ancient forest trees standing among the branching maize, are found among villas and gardens; and the whole country partakes of the wildness of the mountain districts.
In this rough, hilly country, where the roads at best may be compared to our broadest and wildest English lanes, and are so often impassable after heavy rains, the importance of a "plank-road" is obvious. Where the long, heavy, parallel planks are planted firmly and closely on an even surface, a more permanent level is secured than by any other means. Therefore was the plank-road between Fredericksburg and the County (Spotsylvania) Court-house an object of such contention in the late battles.