Cumberland George Orrison, First Loudoun Soldier Killed in the War

This Tuesday, April 12, 2011,  marks the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, which ignited the American Civil War. Although the war began a century and a half ago, new evidence in the form of letters, diaries, maps, photographs continue to be discovered that further our understanding of this pivotal period of American history. And Loudoun is no different. To capture some of the materials that are uncovered, the Loudoun Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, in conjunction with the Library of Virginia and Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, welcomed the Civil War Legacy Project to Leesburg on Saturday, April 9th.

To say the least, this was a cool event. More than 30 individuals brought materials in for the archivists to scan and add to Virginia's collection. Many of them brought more than one document, and some even brought boxes of materials. It was fascinating to watch these pages of history (literally) being brought in and hear the stories of how their owners came about them. The most interesting one for me, as documented in the video, is the woman, Anne Crocker, who brought a photo of her great grand uncle Cumberland George Orrison, who was the first soldier killed in the War in Loudoun in August of 1861. The photo reveals a young man, in his twenties, staring back at you from a century and a half ago, his expression no less determined than when the photographer opened the shutter. Its a haunting image, and speaks to the trials to come for Loudoun, Virginia, and the entire country. His family would never be the same, and neither would the country. That's why I love these type of events. It brings history to life, through the diaries, letters, and photos of a people who lived long ago, but who are not that different from us today. Its good to remember where we came from. And to leave a legacy.

For more information on the Civil War Legacy Project, go to: