|St. Paul’s Church|
Another smaller column on the other side of Short Hill made its way to the Old River Road along the Virginia bank of the Potomac and headed west. These two columns would attack a large Union cavalry encampment—Cole’s Cavalry–on a plateau overlooking the Potomac near Loudoun Heights.
The two-pronged attack became a Confederate disaster, with heavy casualties for Mosby’s 43rd Virginia Cavalry as friendly fire became the enemy. Sleepy Union cavalrymen looked on or opened fire on those on horseback silhouetted against the snow.
The Loudoun Heights Raid is remembered as Mosby’s biggest disaster and one of his last nocturnal raids–two of the Rangers’ most prominent officers were killed and there were many casualties on both sides. It is a classic example of Loudoun’s painful sectional division, as Loudouners served both in Major Henry A. Cole’s Union First Potomac Home Brigade from Maryland or in John Singleton Mosby’s 43rd Virginia Cavalry.
Featured will be Eric Buckland speaking on the raid; Buckland is author of Mosby’s Men in several volumes and is a prominent volunteer with the Mosby Heritage Area Association. Also speaking will be Robert H. Moore II, also a Civil War historian with ancestors who fought with Cole’s Cavalry.
Moore is a volunteer with nearby Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
Members of the Gray Ghost Interpretive Group will be performing dramatizations based on Union, Confederate, and civilian accounts of that cold January. After the formal program, participants are invited to caravan from Neersville the several miles to Loudoun Heights to view the Cole’s Headquarters, still standing, and the encampment site.