On the night of September 5, 1862 a lot must have been going through Lee’s mind as he went to bed in the home of Henry and Jane Harrison in Leesburg. A few days before he informed Confederate President Davis that he was proposing a movement of his army north in Maryland. As of yet, he had not heard back from Davis so his movement was not authorized by Davis, but Lee now has the confidence of the President and made a strategic decision to begin crossing the Potomac River.
On September 4th, D.H. Hill’s division was already crossing into Maryland at various fords in northern Loudoun. On September 5th, Lee held a council of war at Harrison Hall and informed everyone of his decision to move into Maryland. He also gave strict orders against straggling and protecting private property of civilians in Maryland and Pennsylvania. On the afternoon of September 5th, Confederates under “Stonewall” Jackson began their crossing at nearby White’s Ford…the Maryland Campaign had begun.
150 years later, a good friend of mine contacted me and said “hey, I have an exclusive
opportunity for you, would you be interested in staying the night in Harrison Hall?” Well, that was a no brainer for me and soon I was dragging my wife to Leesburg to stay in the same room that Robert E. Lee stayed in on September 3-5, 1862. Anyone who knows me understands my interest in being in “exclusive” spots and this would prove to one of the best.
The owners of Harrison Hall (now called the Glenfiddich House) use the historic home as a corporate retreat and make the bedrooms available for participants. My friend, who knew the owners, learned there were no renters that week so the opportunity was available to enjoy an evening in Leesburg in Lee’s headquarters. My wife is used to my “odd” history based habits, but I think me reading from Douglas Southall Freeman in Lee’s bedroom was close to a low point for me in her eyes. Below I share a few images from Harrison Hall. I was able to walk the building that night, and think about what was going through Lee’s mind on the nights he was there. He got to see his son Robert Jr. while at Harrison Hall and also visited his good friend John Janney who lived nearby. It was Janney that was the President of the Virginia Secession Convention. Janney voted against secession, but went with the majority and presented Lee command of the Virginia military forces in the spring of 1861. Also while at Harrison Hall, Lee visited nearby Dr. Samuel Jackson to get his two arms bandaged from his severe fall near the Stone Bridge on the Manassas battlefield on August 31st. The home saw a “whos who” of Confederate leaders and the building breathes history.
Harrison Hall still stands today, a great home in a great town (I grew up in Leesburg, so there is a bias). If anyone is interested, Harrison Hall is currently up for sale. If you have $4.9 million, then this is the home for you!