During the Civil War three young Quaker women dared to publish a defiant pro-Union newspaper in the village.
It’s been nearly 150 years since three young Quaker women—Sarah Steer, Lizzie Dutton, and Lida Dutton—launched The Waterford News, a defiantly pro-Union newspaper inside Confederate Virginia. They declared their objectives were “to cheer the weary soldier, and render material aid to the sick and wounded.” Risking arrest or worse, they leavened their eyewitness accounts of hardship and horror with youthful wit and unabashed patriotism. The little paper’s fame quickly spread beyond Loudoun County. It was praised by Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, and a Maryland resident passed along the first editions to President Lincoln. The accompanying letter to the President reported that the “fair Editresses” had by late June already raised nearly $1,000 for the U.S. Sanitary Commission, a non-government organization providing health and medical care to Union troops.
The newspaper was issued eight times during the final grinding year of the war. The last edition appeared less than a week before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. After the war The Waterford News was quickly forgotten. Fortunately, over the years, issues long lost came to light. A copy of the eighth and last edition was finally found in 1998.
—From the Introduction by Taylor M. Chamberlin, Bronwen C. Souders, and John M. Souders to the annotated collection—The Waterford News: An underground Union newspaper published by three Quaker maidens in Confederate Virginia 1864-1865—published by the Waterford Foundation in 1999.
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