Start your Civil War exploration with a morning hike through the hallowed grounds of Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park. Journey across up to seven miles of trails made to recreate the 1861 landscape of The Battle of Ball’s Bluff. With one of the smallest national cemeteries in the country, the park is an honest reminder of the Civil War’s impact on Northern Virginia and the rest of the country.
Then, head west through Leesburg to the historic grounds of Morven Park. Wander the site where Confederate soldiers stayed for the winter after their victory at Ball’s Bluff. Explore the recreated log huts that soldiers housed in as well as the estate’s mansion, carriage house museum, and 1,000 acres of lawns, fields, and gardens.
For lunch, drive back into the heart of Leesburg for a meal in historic buildings that date back nearly 150 years. From grilled rainbow trout in a historic grain mill that houses Tuscarora Mill Restaurant to fried green tomatoes in the impressive People’s National Back Building that is now home to Lightfoot Restaurant, enjoy a lunch that is authentically local.
After lunch, head south on Route 15 for twenty minutes to Aldie, Virginia. Once there, tour the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Gilbert’s Corner Regional Park. During the Civil War, the church acted as a barrack, hospital, battleground, and cemetery. The church’s walls feature graffiti from soldiers who spent time recuperating here. Explore the sanctuary of this recently restored church and learn the war stories between Colonel Mosby’s Confederate soldiers and Major Forbes’ Union troops.
Then, head west on Route 50 to see the Aldie Mill in action. The mill is one of the only known tandem water mills in Virginia. During the war, it was also home to the Battle of Aldie, which occurred exactly two weeks before Gettysburg.
After your tour of Aldie is complete, keep west on Route 50 for another five miles to the Red Fox Inn & Tavern in the town of Middleburg. Established in 1728, the Red Fox is the oldest continually operating inn in the US. During the Civil War, Col. John Mosby and his rangers planned daring raids in the upstairs rooms while injured soldiers were cared for in the rooms below. The inn’s pine service bar, still in use, served as an operating table for a field surgeon during the war. Today the inn continues to welcome guests with classic tavern fare and hunt country accommodations.