Leesburg

Situated at the junction of two important colonial roads in Northern Virginia - the Ridge Road (now Rt.7) from the seaport town of Alexandria to the undeveloped West, and the Carolina Road (now Rt. 15) stretching from upper New York State down to Charlestown, South Carolina - Leesburg very early became the commercial and trading center for most of the area south of the Potomac River and east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1758 the Acts of Assembly in Williamsburg authorized 60 acres as the establishment of the Town of Leesburg, probably named to honor Francis Lightfoot Lee, later a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and ancestor to Robert E. Lee, the famous (and much beloved of all the South) Commander in Chief of the Confederate forces during the American Civil War (1861-1864). In 1761 Leesburg was designed as the county seat for Loudoun County, and the first courthouse was built. By this time a number of businesses had started up, including silversmiths, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, hatters, cordwainers, saddlers, and quite a few taverns and inns. During the War of 1812, when the British were advancing to burn Washington, the valuable papers of the Federal Achieves, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, were brought through Leesburg in 22 wagons on their way to safekeeping at an estate a few miles south of the town. The brutal and bloody battles of the War Between the States raged around the town borders, and one particular incident noted for its horrific death count of many brave Union soldiers - the Battle of Ball's Bluff - was fought on the cliffs above the Potomac only two miles outside town. Union Cemetery in Leesburg has a beautiful open site filled with the dead from both sides of the conflict --not only those who fought and died on the battlefield, but those who also succumbed to the rampant diseases and illnesses at the hospital inside the town limits - a building which still stands today, housing an automotive import dealers and the resident ghosts of those lost soldiers. Fortunately for the county, the courthouse was spared any retaliation by the Union forces and, as a result, maintains original deeds, wills, and other records in an unbroken continuity from 1757 (the founding of the county) to the present. Today the Old Leesburg lends itself beautifully to walking tours of the shops and businesses, parks and historical sites. The Loudoun County Parks and Recreation sponsor on-going events throughout the year for thousands of visitors from all over, showcasing and highlighting this wonderful "jewel in the County crown" we are proud to call Leesburg.

From the Loudoun Handbook - 1997 edition. wp - 9/2000

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