Historic Church Doubled as Hospital in Civil War Battle

Mt. Zion Church | Loudon County, VA | c. 1851

The route where Mt. Zion sits was once an important main crossroad in southeastern Loudon County.

Built in 1851, and given its location, the church saw a lot of regional history pass just through its yard during the War Between the States. In 1863, it served as a Union hospital serving soldiers following nearby military engagements.

Interestingly, there is still ‘grafitti’ on the interior walls of the church- the names of soldiers who were recuperating there etched in the stone.

And on July 6, 1864, a brief skirmish broke out on the grounds of Mt. Zion when Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby and his men met the Union forces from Massachusetts and New York under Major William H. Forbes. 

The church cemetery contains over 240 graves, some of which are unmarked. Col. Mosby and the Rangers killed, wounded, and took prisoner 105 of the 150 Federals in battle that day. Mosby lost one man. The graveyard has markers for 12 Union cavalrymen killed in action here; there also are two Mosby Rangers and other Confederates buried, although they are not casualties of this battle. Both Union and Confederate soldiers are buried in the cemetery, as is a War of 1812 veteran, and several from more recent wars. Outside the walls of the cemetery is an area where slaves and free blacks are buried. 

Except for the years during the Civil War, the congregation met regularly until 1980. Today it is owned, managed, and maintained by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Association. Visitors are welcome to the church grounds daily from dawn until dusk. However, interior access is on the fourth Sundays of the month, April through October. Read more here

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Mt. Zion (in the background) sees battle on July 6, 1864. Drawing courtesy of Visit Loudon.

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