Heaton's Crossroads, also known as the Purcellville Wagon Raid, was a American Civil War skirmish that took place between Federal cavalry under General Alfred N. Duffie and Confederate infantry under General John C. Breckenridge on July 16, 1864 near present day Purcellville, Virginia in Loudoun County as part of the Valley Campaigns of 1864. The action was tactically inconclusive.
Following the Battle of Fort Stevens on July 12 in Washington D.C., Confederate General Jubal A. Early decided to withdrawal his army across the Potomac River into Virginia and return to the Shenandoah Valley. The Confederates withdrew along the Georgetown Pike into Montgomery County, Maryland towards Poolesville. On the July 14 they reached Conrad's Ferry (present day White's Ferry) and crossed making camp at Big Springs just north of Leesburg, Virginia.
Nearly a full day after Early set out towards Virginia, Union forces under General Horatio Wright set out in pursuit. Under his command was the entire VI Corps, part of the XIX Corps as well as several divisions of "100-days" troops recruited to defend Washington. On the afternoon of July 15, Wright arrived in Poolsville and learned of the arrival of the Army of West Virginia at Harpers Ferry.
A small force of infantry and cavalry from the Army of West Virginia, under General George Crook had crossed into Loudoun that morning by way of Berlin (present day Brunswick), briefly skirmished with Confederate cavalry near Waterford and retired to Hillsboro. Seeing that he could pin Early between himself and the force under Crook in the Loudoun Valley, Wright determined to cross the Potomac the following morning and ensnare Early in the Federal pincers. Wright, however, could not easily communicate with Crook as the telegraph wires between his position and Harpers Ferry had been cut by John S. Mosby's Rangers a few days prior during his raid on Point of Rocks.
Confederate Withdrawal and Union Reconnaissa...