Fairfax, Virginia and the Railroad

John Cowgill: Stories of the Railroad

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Fairfax, Virginia is a suburb of Washington, D.C. that is west of the city, and it is the county seat of Fairfax County, Virginia.  The town was established in 1805 and named after Thomas Fairfax.  It played a role in the American Civil War as it was the site of the first land battle of the war (after the first shot fired at Fort Sumter) known as the Battle of Fairfax Courthouse.  A second battle took place here years later days before the battle of Gettysburg which, although the Confederates won the war, impeded their progress in their march to Gettysburg.  Although Virginia was a Confederate state, Fairfax was a Union stronghold.  Blenheim, a brick farmhouse, was used as a hospital.  The Gunnell House was also the site of a night raid by John Mosby (known as the ‘Gray Ghost’) who invaded the home at night and kidnapped a Union…

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