Brentsville Courthouse

Posted by on Nov 12, 2012 in Blog, Newsletter | 3 comments

Brentsville Courthouse

Brentsville Courthouse

-  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  -

The Brentsville Courthouse Historic Center is a 28 acre site with five historic buildings and various archeological sites.  It is located on Bristow Road just a few miles south of Manassas, Virginia.

The town of Brentsville was established in 1820 to become the County seat of Prince William County.  By this time, many residents of the county had moved farther west to take advantage of the better farm land.  This meant that the original county seat in Dumfries was too far east and therefore too great a travel burden for those in the west of the county.  The new town of Brentsville was centrally located within Prince William County along the major east/west road that led from the port of Dumfries to the Shenandoah Valley.

Brentsville Courthouse

Brentsville Courthouse

-  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  -

Brentsville remained the County seat through the Civil War.  In response to John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859 the Prince William Cavalry (Co. A Virginia Cavalry) was formed here on the courthouse lawn in January 1860. The ladies of Brentsville made a flag and presented it to the company. Other Confederate units from Prince William County such as Ewell Guards (Co. A. 49th Virginia Infantry) were organized and drilled here.  The Battle of Bristoe Station, fought three miles west on Oct. 14 1863, brought combat to Brentsville’s doorstep. During the battle Federal General John Buford’s cavalry was posted here to protect the Federal supply train. Confederate partisan units operate in Brentsville until the end of the war.

Like many Virginian towns Brentsville suffered heavily at the hands of both armies. Confederate General Eppa Hunton, a Brentsville resident and lawyer, had his house and other buildings destroyed. The Hampton Legion among other units was posted here on scouting missions and several homes and churches served as hospitals. The county clerk’s office was torn down and its bricks used for camp chimneys. Part of the 1822 courthouse roof was torn off and many county records were either destroyed or taken by soldiers as souvenirs. Capt. Andrew McHenry of the 13th Pennsylvania Infantry wrote of Brentsville in 1864 “the houses generally are in ruin.”  Brentsville never recovered from the damage caused by the Civil War.  In 1893 the County seat was moved to Manassas, which had become the economic and social center of the county, mainly due to the railroad junction located there.  Once Manassas had taken over as the County seat, Brentsville became a rural community which allowed it to retain much of its 19th century character.

The Brentsville County Courthouse was built in 1822.  It was the fourth Courthouse to serve Prince William County having replaced the one in Dumfries when the County seat moved to Brentville.  Within this building the county magistrates oversaw both criminal and civil cases.  All functions of the county government also took place within.  In 2006, the Courthouse was restored to its 1830’s appearance.

Brentsville Courthouse

Brentsville Courthouse

-  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  -

The two of the best buildings for photography are the Courthouse seen here and the Union Church which we will look at in the next post.  Of the others, the Jail is currently undergoing stabilization and renovation work so is surrounded by a security fence and the One Room Schools has too many strategically placed garbage bins and a handicap access ramp as this is now the visitors center.   I confess not to have stopped by the fifth building, the Haislip-Hall Log Cabin Home as there was a large family group between me and the building and they were easily going to get there first.

The information for this post came from the Prince William County web-site   and the information leaflet collected at the site.

Click here to learn more about the civil war sites of Virginia and West Virginia

 

3 Comments

  1. Very nice post Mark. Love the information of Brentsville. The images are well captured with a nice color contrast of the brick to the grass.
    Len Saltiel recently posted..Headed InlandMy Profile

  2. nice work Mark, love scenes like this!
    Jim Nix recently posted..Blue hour in DenmarkMy Profile

  3. Excellent post and images Mark.
    Edith Levy recently posted..Getting in CloseMy Profile

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