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Remembering the 'Loudoun Rangers'

Monday - 5/23/2011, 12:33pm  ET

Re-enactors portray the Loudoun Rangers during Civil War Day in Waterford Va. (WTOP Photo/Hank Silverberg)
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Hank Silverberg,

WATERFORD, Va. - It's a Civil War story that you may never have heard of before about a cavalry unit from Virginia.

The Loudoun Rangers, mostly from Waterford and Lovettsville, never mounted more than 300 men. But, they stand out in a unique way. They wore Union blue, the only cavalry unit from a Confederate state to serve in the Union army.

Lee Stone, from Purcellville, the descendant of a Union soldier says a local miller named Sam Means formed the unit in Waterford where most of the citizens wanted to stay in the Union.

"He got the arrangement that he would operate independently near home, that they would always be in or near Loudoun County," he says.

The Loudoun Rangers clashed often with famed Confederate ranger John Singleton Mosby, known as the "Gray Ghost," who roamed freely through much of North Central Virginia. Local historian John Souders, whose great-great-grandfather rode with Mosby, says that differences lingered for a century.

The area around Waterford and Lovettsville was settled mostly by Quakers and German immigrants who came from the North long before the war. When Virginia voted to secede from the Union, many of them voted against secession.

Souders says when he was growing up, there were still stories about the "traitors" from Waterford.

The Loudoun rangers and Mosby fought a bloody battle near the Waterford Baptist church in 1862. After that, the Loudoun Rangers operated from across the Potomac at Point-of-Rocks, Maryland, often raiding into Virginia and providing information to other Union troops.

"Old grudges were hard to give up, though I think, by now almost everything has either been forgotten or forgiven", says Souders.

The Loudoun Rangers unique story is being retold by the locals in Waterford as the 150th anniversary of their founding in 1862, draws near.

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