A century and a half after fighting in a war that transformed their country, four African American veterans of the Civil War whose remains are buried at Mount Zion Community Cemetery in Leesburg will be formally recognized for their role in Loudoun County’s history.
Outside the cemetery gates, a new Civil War Trails sign — sponsored by the Black History Committee of the Friends of the Thomas Balch Library, the Loudoun County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee and the Mosby Heritage Area Association — was installed Monday afternoon and will be formally dedicated at a public ceremony Saturday. It is the first historical marker in Loudoun to specifically recognize the service of African American Civil War veterans, said Kevin Grigsby, a local historian and author of the book “From Loudoun to Glory,” about the lives of African Americans in Loudoun during the Civil War.
Although only four veterans are named on the sign — James Gaskins of the 39th U.S. Colored Infantry, Joseph Waters of the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry, William Taylor of the 1st U.S. Colored Infantry and John W. Langford of the U.S. Navy — Saturday’s program will honor all African Americans from Loudoun who served in the Union Army and Navy. Leesburg Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd will read a message from President Obama, event organizers said.
Of the nearly 300 documented African American Civil War soldiers and sailors from Loudoun, only about 20 settled in the county after the war, Grigsby said. After the war, they returned to little fanfare.
Source: Washington Post | Caitlin Gibson