- The Washington Times - Friday, May 14, 2004

Here’s a question that will stump just about everyone, including most history buffs: Who was the first Confederate soldier wounded in the Civil War?

Good but incorrect answers would include John Quincy Marr or James W. Jackson. Marr was the first Confederate soldier killed, on June 1, 1861, at Fairfax Courthouse. There is a street (John Marr Drive) and a monument dedicated to him in Annandale.

Jackson was killed on May 24, 1861, by Union troops immediately after he killed a Union officer, Col. Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, who was in the process of removing a Confederate flag from the roof of Jackson’s Marshall House Hotel in Alexandria.

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President Lincoln could see the flag from the White House and was said to be very annoyed by its presence. The day before, Fairfax County residents had voted 942 to 289 in favor of seceding from the Union. Twelve of the 15 precincts voted in favor of secession, with four voting unanimously.

The correct answer is Peyton Anderson, a soldier in what became the 6th Virginia Cavalry, who was shot in the right arm on May 27, 1861, near Fairfax Circle.

Anderson was on picket duty at the time with another soldier, William Lillard, who was captured during the incident.

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The two Confederates had been assigned to the Falls Church road with instructions to fire two shots of warning and retreat to Fairfax if they sighted Union soldiers.

Anderson survived the wound and was soon after discharged for disability. Injury did not keep him away for long because he later joined Col. John Mosby’s 43rd Cavalry.

On the anniversary of the shooting on May 27, 1927, the United Daughters of the Confederacy placed a monument near the site of the incident.

The monument was moved due to road widening, but is located on present-day Route 29 in Fairfax City, in front of the Econo Lodge motel.

The monument was unveiled “with appropriate exercises,” and was “most interesting and largely attended,” according to the Confederate Veteran Magazine.

Those in attendance included Anderson’s widow and many of his descendants.

In a previously unpublished letter, dated May 27, 1927, on file in the Fairfax Research Room of the Fairfax County Public Library, a witness to the shooting wrote:

“In the early morning of May 27th, 1861, I, as a boy of fourteen years of age was passing the spot where the Flint Hill and Falls Church roads intersect. At this time there were two Confederate pickets stationed there; one lying in the pine woods nearby and the other on his horse on duty, each dressed in civilian clothes with a feather in their hats.

“I had not gone far down the road before I was met by a squad of cavalry which I counted as boys are wont to do, finding twenty-four men and one Officer.

“They were dressed and equipped so finely that I was sure that they were Union soldiers. I was soon to realize this truth, for as they approached the foot of the hill they spurred their horses into a gallop and soon surrounded the two surprised pickets.

“It was but a moment until a shot rang out followed by a puff of smoke and as I hurried homeward to tell my friends what I had seen I was again passed by the troop of cavalry, who this time had a prisoner. I have since learned that the bullet found its mark in the person of Peyton Anderson, the one in whose honor this Memorial is today being dedicated, and it gives me a great pleasure to be able to recall the picture of such an historical event, and to contribute to the success of this occasion. — Yours very truly, James W. Robey.”

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Had it not been for the fact that he was fighting against the United States, Anderson could be called a true “Yankee doodle dandy” because he was born, in 1837, on the Fourth of July.

Anderson married Louemma Miller in 1876. After the early morning ceremony, they “began the long drive by buggy to Warrenton where they boarded a train for Philadelphia, Pa., to attend the Centennial Exposition,” according to a 1961 article in the Rappahannock News.

Peyton died on Jan. 12, 1914, and Louemma died in 1951 at the age of 102. They are both buried in Amissville, Va.

Paul Herbert is a criminal investigator and resides in Fairfax.

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