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Historic marker commemorating "action at Annandale" unveiled in style | Community Spirit

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Historic marker commemorating "action at Annandale" unveiled in style

Col. John Mosby, Virginia Gov. William “Extra Billy” Smith, and some Civil War soldiers returned to Annandale Saturday for a ceremony unveiling the historic marker commemorating the “Action at Annandale.” The marker, on the corner of Little River Turnpike and Hillbrook Drive, next to the library, recognizes the historical significance of the roadbed for the unfinished Manassas Gap Railroad and a Civil War skirmish that took place Dec. 2, 1861.

On that day, approximately 200 Confederate cavalrymen overran a barricade defended by the 45th New York Volunteers. The skirmish ended when reinforcing troops from the 32nd New York Regiment joined the fight and the Confederates retreated toward Centreville. One federal soldier and a couple of Confederates were killed, and about 12 to 14 soldiers on each side were taken prisoner.

 

Mosby didn’t actually participate in the Annandale skirmish, but the Mosby Raiders were active throughout the area during the war. Jimmy Fleming, a re-enactor who portrays Mosby, brought his horses Tinker, Virginia’s 2007 champion jumper, and Will, an expert in fox hunting. David Meisky, who portrayed Gov. Smith, is a member of the 17th Virginia Infantry re-enactment group, also known as the Fairfax Rifles.

Anne Wendell of Sandston, Va., outside Richmond, came to the ceremony with her son Erich to see where Erich’s great, great, great grandfather, Valentine Wendell, had fought as a member of the 45th New York infantry, which was made up entirely of German immigrants. Valentine Wendell was later captured at Chancellorsville, held for six months, and continued to fight.

This summer, Anne and Erich, a freshman studying aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech, toured Civil War battle sites where Valentine had fought. Anne added Annandale to their itinerary when she learned about the historic marker dedication from the Annandale blog.

Following the unveiling ceremony, the group moved inside the library, and historic Ron Beavers gave a brief presentation on the Manassas Gap Railroad line, which was planned to extend from Manassas Junction to Harrisonburg—and eventually from Alexandria to the coal fields of western Virginia (what is now West Virginia), but those plans were disrupted by the Civil War. When Virginia seceded from the Union May 23, 1861, all work on the railroad halted.

 

The remains of a bridge abutment in Poe Terrace Park across the street from the library and other stone and earthworks scattered around the area are all that’s left of that project. Annandale resident Helen Winter first proposed the idea for the historic marker in 2008 and worked to get it approved. Initially, Winter hoped that focusing attention on the Annandale skirmish and the boulders from the railroad project would encourage the county to fix up Poe Terrace Park. 

But that won’t happen any time soon, says Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, because the Hillbrook-Tall Oaks Civic Association has made it clear that it doesn’t want the park cleaned up. Gross expressed pride in all of the historic markers in the Mason District and says the marker commemorating the Action at Annandale is the 39th historic marker in Fairfax County.