The Fauquier White Sulphur Springs resort was located directly in the center of the greatest concentration of fighting during the War Between the States. On July 21, 1861, Union Commander Brigadier General Irvin McDowell and his Army of Northeast Virginia moved against General Beauregard's Confederate Army of the Potomac, beginning the Battle of First Manassas just 30 miles northeast of Fauquier Springs. During this first major battle, Colonel Thomas J. Jackson earned his famous nickname "Stonewall" as he inspired his Confederate brigade to withstand a strong, but inexperienced, Union attack.
Stonewall Jackson led the Valley Campaign against Major General Nathaniel Banks' Union forces in Winchester, Front Royal and Strasburg. Meanwhile, Confederate General Joseph Johnston resisted the advance of General McClellan's Union forces as they made their way up to Richmond from the Southeast. General Robert E. Lee replaced an injured Johnston and led his Army of Northern Virginia to many victories during the war.
Taking advantage of McClellan's pause in his offensive advance to Richmond, Lee turned his attention to John Pope's Union Army of Virginia in 1862. Lee divided his troops, immobilizing McClellan while sending Major General James Longstreet to reinforce Jackson's Confederate forces along the Rappahannock River near Fauquier Springs. Lee arrived at Gordonsville on August 15, hoping to defeat Pope by cutting bridges along the river and then attacking before McClellan's army could arrive to reinforce it. Lee needed to be able to cross the river even though he was cutting bridges to foil Pope. To that end, Confederates built several bridges themselves, including a key crossing at Fauquier Springs. Unfortunately, this bridge created a strategic target and there was a series of skirmishes.
On the afternoon of August 25, 1862, while the Springs was occupied by Confederate troops, a shell struck the main hotel at the Springs, known as The Pavilion, which burst into flames and burned to the ground. In the days that followed, Jackson's and Longstreet's wings of Lee's army marched and reunited at the First Bull Run battlefield in Manassas, leading to the Second Battle of Manassas on August 28, which became the decisive battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign.
The Fauquier White Sulphur Springs lay in ruins throughout the remainder of the war and as the nation began to rebuild after the end of the war in April 1865. In 1877, before becoming Governor of Virginia, Fitzhugh Lee, the nephew of Robert E. Lee, sought a charter to reincorporate the Springs and restore it to prominence as a grand resort with miraculous healing springs.