Leesylvania State Park - Woodbridge, Virginia
Leesylvania State Park - Woodbridge, Virginia
Leesylvania State Park
The birthplace of Revolutionary War hero Light
Horse Harry Lee, the park is a noted heritage and
eco tourism destination in Woodbridge, Virginia.
Leesylvania State Park
The park provides stunning
views of the Potomac River
along with an array of historic
sites and points of interest.
Cannon at Freestone Point
Well-preserved Confederate
fortifications still stand in the
park, reminders of the 1861
Battle of Freestone Point.
Leesylvania State Park - Woodbridge, Virginia
Light Horse Harry Lee
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: November 6, 2013
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Historic Sites in Virginia
Light-Horse Harry Lee
A monument in the park pays
tribute to Harry Lee III, who
gained fame as "Light-Horse
Harry" Lee in the American
Revolution. He was born at
Leesylvania State Park preserves historic
ground along the beautiful shores of the
Potomac River in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Established in 1992 on land donated to
Virginia by philanthropist Daniel Ludwig, the
park offers an array of historic sites, natural
settings and amenities. It is open daily.

This land was visited and occupied by
American Indians for thousands of years
before the first English settlers arrived on the
Potomac. Freestone Point, a high point in the
park, was called Neabsco by the Indians, a
name that translates literally to "at the point of

Captain John Smith of
Jamestown and
Pocahontas legend fame visited the area in
1608 during his "voyage of discovery."  The
subsequent use of easily cut sandstone from
Neabsco led other English settlers to dub it
Freestone Point after the free stone they
found there.

It was the park's association with the famed
Lee family of Virginia, however, that gave it
the name it bears today, Leesylvania.

Henry Lee II and his wife Lucy Grymes Lee
established Leesylvania Plantation on land
including the park site in 1747. They used
sandstone cut from Freestone Point for the
foundation of their manor.  

It was in this home that the couple's eight
children were born, among them Henry Lee
III. Born on January 29, 1759, he went on to
become the famed "Light-Horse Harry" Lee
of the American Revolution.

After growing up at Leesylvania and
graduating from what is now Princeton
University at the age of 14, Henry Lee III
entered the practice of law. With the outbreak
of the American Revolution against Great
Britain, he entered the Patriot service as a
captain in the 1st Continental Light Dragoons.

In 1778, he was promoted to major and given
command of what became known as Lee's
Legion, a mixed force of infantry and cavalry.
It was as commander of the legion that he
earned the name "Light-Horse Harry" Lee for
his stunning ability as a commander of
mounted troops.

Fighting alongside Francis Marion, Nathaniel
Greene and others, Lee took part in an array
of actions that included the Battles of
Augusta, Guilford Court House and
Ninety-Six. He was on hand at the Battle of
Yorktown and saw Lord Cornwallis surrender
to George Washington. He went on to
command troops during the Whiskey
Rebellion, serve in Congress and become
the 9th Governor of Virginia.

Light-Horse Harry's children continued the
family's tradition of service to Virginia and the
South. His son Henry Lee IV, for example,
became a speech writer for John C. Calhoun
and Andrew Jackson, even helping "Old
Hickory" draft his inaugural address.

It was Lee's youngest, son, however, who
achieved the greatest distinction. Born on
January 19, 1807, Robert Edward Lee served
with note in the Mexican-American War
before becoming the commander of the Army
of Northern Virginia and general-in-chief of
the Confederate armies during the War
Between the States.

The manor house at Leesylvania was
destroyed by fire more than 200 years ago,
but the family cemetery can still be seen in
the park. Among those buried there are
Henry Lee II and Lucy Grymes Lee, the
parents of "Light-Horse Harry" Lee and
grandparents of Robert E. Lee. A monument
also pays tribute to Light-Horse Harry's
service to Virginia and America.
It likely was his long familiarity with the land
that led Robert E. Lee to order Confederate
forces there in September 1861 as part of his
blockade of the Potomac River.

The objective of the blockade was to stop
supply and troop ships from passing up the
river to Washington, D.C. To enforce the
effort, Lee ordered the construction of artillery
batteries along the Virginia shore of the
Potomac - including one at Freestone Point
in today's Leesylvania State Park.

Soldiers from the Washington Mounted
Artillery built earthworks atop the point and
mounted two small six-pounder rifled guns
there along with a much more effective
32-pounder they called "Long Tom."

The battery was attacked by the Union navy
on the morning of September 25, 1861,
igniting the Battle of Freestone Point. Cannon
fire from the ships hit the earthworks but did
no real damage. The Confederates returned
their fire, but the battle ended in a draw.

The battery was evacuated in the spring of
1862 when Confederate forces were
repositioned to oppose the Peninsula
Campaign, but the earthworks are well
preserved and a cannon and interpretive
markers can be seen at the site.

In addition to Robert E. Lee, the park lands
also have an association with John Fairfax,
who served as an aide to noted Confederate
General James Longstreet. His father had
purchased the property in 1825 and John
inherited it in 1847, living there until his death
in 1910. His home burned not long after he
died, but the chimney can still be seen.

In addition to historic features, Leesylvania
also boasts an impressive collection of other
points of interest. Included among these are
noteworthy natural settings, beautiful views,
picnic areas, fishing piers, hiking trails of
various lengths, playgrounds, a boat launch,
store, snack bar and more.

The park covers 542 acres and is bordered
by the Potomac River, Neabasco Creek and
Powells Creek. The line dividing Virginia from
Maryland comes so close to shore at one
point that visitors can cross from one state to
the other simply by walking down the fishing

Leesylvania State Park is at 2001 Daniel K.
Ludwig Dr., Woodbridge, Virginia. The entry
fee is $2 on weekdays and $3 on weekends.
Please click here to learn more.
Dividing Line on the Potomac
Visitors to Leesylvania State
Park can step from Virginia
into Maryland via a short walk
down a fishing pier. From
1861-1865, this line divided
the Confederate States from
the United States.
Photos by Savannah Brininstool