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Destination: Leesburg, Virginia

August 26th, 2009 (11:47 pm)

current mood: sleepy

Last weekend my seven-year-old asked if he could go to Leesburg. He had no particular destination within Leesburg and no particular reason for wanting to go there except that it is a nearby town he'd never visited. He loves exploring new places — and studying which routes lead there. I reminded him that he had a school holiday this week for a teachers' workday, and I said we could go then.

Today was that teachers' workday, so we drove out to Leesburg late this morning, with a lot of input from the backseat as to which roads I should take. Leesburg is in Loudon County, about an hour west of here. I used to go there quite often for browsing antique stores, taking walking tours of the historic downtown area, and eating at quaint cafes. Those activities didn't sound second-grader-friendly, so I did a little research this week to ferret out activities that would be more to his liking. I learned about a Civil War battlefield that sounded interesting. (Except this is Virginia, so I could justifiably call it by its southern name, The War of Northern Aggression.) Being a seven-year-old boy, my son is frequently fixated on violence, and I hoped this would provide a more educational outlet for that preoccupation than building Lego structures that include weaponry for fighting off bad guys, even when those structures happen to be airports, hospitals, and restaurants.

The Battle of Ball's Bluff was a small but dramatic Civil War engagement in which Confederate forces thoroughly trounced Union troops who made the mistake of relying on intelligence from an officer who couldn't tell a Confederate encampment from a grove of trees. The only sitting U.S. Senator ever to die in battle was killed at Ball's Bluff. This battlefield park is not a highly developed tourist attraction. Woods have taken over much of the site, there is no visitors center or gift shop, and the tour is self-guided (though occasional guided tours are available, if you get there at the right time). First we sat on a bench near the parking area and ate our picnic lunch. Then we picked up a brochure with a map that showed various trails through the woods, and we set out walking through the woods, following the white blazes on the trees. Along the trail were plenty of historic markers (yes, Markeroons, I snarfed 'em all) describing the events of 1861. I'm not sure how much history my little guy retained, but he seemed to enjoy the stroll.

After Ball's Bluff, we headed into town (and back another hundred years) to tour the Loudoun Museum. Actually, our tour consisted mostly of my following as he made a beeline for the Children's Discovery Room and sat down at a crayon-laden table to draw maps and complete colonial-themed word-search puzzles. I was able to convince him to dress up in the 18th-century-style children's clothing there, so I could take some pictures of him looking Colonial.

Then we walked back to the car and drove home in time to eat pizza with two visitors from Tajikistan. But that's a different story.


Posted by: Lawrence M. Schoen (klingonguy)
Posted at: August 27th, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)

Do not minimize the impact that visitors from Tajikistan had on the war of northern aggression.

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