Where Did They Stand

by Taylor M. Chamberlin

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Book Details

Paperback: Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches
Publisher: Waterford Foundation (2003)

Book Description

In the tumultuous early months of 1861, citizens of Loudoun County, Virginia, faced a fateful choice. Should they join their fellow Southerners who had already seceded from the United States, or remain loyal to the Union whose capital lay barely 25 miles to the southeast? Many were swayed by months of fiery speeches in support of “states rights” and the Southern way of life–including slavery. Others with close business and family links north of the nearby Potomac River, feared war and economic ruin.

The question was put to a vote on 23 May 1861. But there was no secret ballot, and each vote, publicly cast, carried personal consequences for the voter–both in relation with his neighbors and in his post-war dealings with the federal government.

This carefully documented study details, voter by voter, the crucial balloting on the Ordinance of Secession. It also sheds new light on the lasting significance of that vote as individual Loudoun citizens tried to recover damages caused by Union forces in the course of the war, particularly during the infamous–and indiscriminate–”Burning Raid” that charred most of the Loudoun Valley in November 1864.

There is much in this clearly written and conveniently organized “book of lists” to interest and inform the general reader curious about Loudoun County during the Civil War. But the study–meticulously researched, including extensive data from the National Archives–will be especially valuable to genealogists and to social historians concerned with the vote whose consequences have rippled down to modern times. Equally helpful are the complete rosters of “Burning Raid” claimants and Southern Claims Commission applicants.