Battlefield Guide Services

Monday, August 19, 2013

McClellan Mystery: Can we put it to rest? Photo taken at Minor's Hill, March 1862.

     My readers will hopefully excuse this wandering off the path regarding Spotsylvania and it's surrounding engagements. Today's post is a quick trek up the road, north to my old neighborhood, so to speak. The outskirts of Washington, D.C.
     I believe this post will correct one misconception regarding the first attached image, and secondly, solve an ongoing mystery.  The mystery involves the very obvious visage of General McClellan. All indications appear to point to an identification of it's location as being "Minor's Hill", roughly two miles north of Falls Church, Virginia, during a visit to the headquarters of Brigadier General George Webb Morell, a division commander of the Union V Corps. The problem in identification has in places suggested that the man to the left of McClellan, with knuckles also on the stump, is General George Gordon Meade. This man is indeed similar to Meade, but there is a lack of Meade's trademark comb over and the absence of Meade's distinct tortoise eyes. The brigadier general seen here is in fact George Morell, and is so identified on this version. Click on any image for larger viewing.

     Notice the man behind Morell, standing with his arms folded. He is identified in this version of the image as "Surgeon Walters" Notice then in the image below, the man pointing at center is identified as General Morell, this time wearing his cap. Look now, two men to the right of Morell, and you will see Surgeon Walters, again, with his arms folded. Both images are in the Library of Congress collection, identified as Minor's Hill, although misspelled as "Miner's". This location was a large camp and observation area for the Union Army, as well as the location of numerous hot-air balloon ascents to observe Confederate movements to the west. The date for these images is apparently in March of 1862 while McClellan was headquartered at Fairfax Courthouse, roughly 9.25 miles to the southwest. (See update in our October 2 post by clicking here.) The structure seen in each image may in fact be the same. Notice the large observation tower that is known to have stood at this location. The location today is somewhere along the Fairfax County and Arlington County line, amongst wooded subdivisions, with no indication of identifiable cultural resources to pinpoint the exact spot, although chances are the tower was placed on the highest point on the hill. 
Updated August 2016
Exact location found. Structure to be demolished for new homes.

Links to the LOC for each image are located here, and here.


Anonymous said...

I grew up on Minor's hill! No trace of it today, all houses and a reservoir with tennis courts. Very interesting info.

Unknown said...

It actually does exist on the east side of the hill just into McClean. Its at the intersection of Virginia Avenue and Nottingham St. Many additions, but the original home is still there although due for demolition August 1 2016.

Unknown said...

That picture was taken right below my bedroom, and at the kitchen of the orifianal structure. Yes, the house still stand for another few days/weeks.
Bruce Hardy - 3rd generation of Harwood's/Hardy's to live in the house. My Grandmother, Grace Deborah Thomas first bought the house in 1904.