Four African American Civil War veterans are buried in this cemetery: James Gaskins (39th U.S. Colored Infantry), Joseph Waters (5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry), William Taylor (1st U.S. Colored Infantry), and John W. Langford (U.S. Navy). The first three were among the nearly 200,000 African Americans who served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War—a number representing 10 percent of the total number of Federal troops. Langford, who served aboard the USS Fuschia and the USS Wyandank, was among thousands of African Americans who constituted an estimated 16 percent of the U.S. Navy’s manpower.
The four veterans buried here served in units that saw action in numerous battles in 1863–1865. Gaskins fought at Boydton Plank Road (Oct. 1864), other actions in the Richmond-Petersburg campaign, and at Fort Fisher in North Carolina (Dec. 1864–Jan. 1865). Waters’s regiment served in the Siege of Petersburg. Taylor’s regiment fought at Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights (September 1864), around Petersburg, and at Fort Fisher. Langford’s vessels in the Potomac Flotilla disrupted Confederate shipping. The men’s headstones are reminders of the hundreds of African Americans from Loudoun County who served the Union cause. They fought to bring an end to more than two hundred years of slavery in the United States and to liberate the four million men, women, and children who were enslaved at the time of the war. Afterward, Gaskins, Waters, Taylor, and Langford became respected citizens in Leesburg’s African American community.
African American Civil War veterans are also buried in other Loudoun County cemeteries, including Rock Hill (Unison), Union (Waterford), Grace Annex (Lincoln), Pleasant Valley (Hamilton), and Mt. Sinai (Britain).