Joseph Rizzo, the Executive Director of Loudoun Museum, shared the fateful life of political prisoners in Loudoun County during the American Civil War period, spring of 1983.

Imprisoning suspicious secessionists

In the spring of 1863, the Loudoun Rangers’ commander, Samuel Means of Waterford, was in the northern bottom area and wanted to show locals “that he wanted some retaliation” and used this moment to capture prisoners who he deemed “worthy of being imprisoned for some previous acts.” So they set out to arrest a couple of secessionists in the area; most notably, among them was a man named Henry Ball.

Means accused Ball—who lives around the Lucketts area—of being the one who led the Confederate soldiers into the Waterford Baptist Church, where the former’s men and recruits were caught in the firefight and captured by Confederate cavalry chief Elijah White.

Waterford Baptist Church c1860s
A battle was fought around the Baptish Church on the left during the Civil War at Waterford, Virginia. (Image Source: Waterford Foundation)

The Loudoun Rangers also arrested Albert Campbell Belt, a notable secessionist in the Lucketts area. Soon after, the news spread across town, sparking outrage and fear among the locals.

Upon learning of this, the Confederates planned to free the two captives. However, it was put on hold when the Battle of Gettysburg transpired in July. While waiting for their rescue, Belt and Ball were sent across the Potomac River and behind the notorious prison walls of Fort Delaware.

Two-for-two exchange

In the latter part of the summer of 1863, the cavalry commander, James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart, started looking into getting the prisoners back home. He devised a plan and wrote to his comrade White, ordering him to abduct Asa Bond, who happened to be Samuel Means’ father-in-law.

With Asa Bond on their hands, they could then demand an exchange for the freedom of two secessionists. But, on the other hand, White took the plan one step forward and suggested seizing one more prisoner so it would be a “two for two” exchange, thus taking insurance company chief William Williams.

Fort Delaware was the infamous prison used by the Union to place its prisoners-of-war spies and other criminals during the American Civil War. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

White and his men first went to the Williams’ residence on Sunday evening, knocked on their door, and pointed a revolver at the latter’s head as soon as he opened. Then, despite the pleas of Williams’ wife, the Confederate cavalrymen carried him away. Since this is a small community, news travels as quickly as a tweet in the 21st century.