Discover the Potomac's strategic crossings. Indeed, read on to the surprise we have in the last paragraph.
Maryland commuters have long known that there are only three ways to cross the Potomac between Point of Rocks and the nation’s capital. What they don’t know is that a century and a half ago, there were more than a dozen.
Forget bridges. Think ferries, and especially fords. Throughout history, waterways have exerted profound influences on military campaigns. During the American Civil War, these nearly forgotten, but in many cases, still scenic and even pristine crossings along the Potomac River endure as reminders of how and where commanders Blue and Gray dealt with the riverine obstacles confronting their armies.
Many students of the war can easily point out Conrad’s Ferry where such Confederate commanders as Col. John Mosby, Lt. Col. Lige White, and Gen. John McCausland crossed their cavalry. Known today as White’s Ferry, this still active cable ferry which is named for Confederate General Jubal Early, regularly floats traffic between Loudoun County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, 18 hours a day, weather permitting.
But how many have heard of Rowser's Ford, just a dozen miles northwest of the Beltway?
Mosby crossed Rowser’s in an attack on the camp of the 6th Michigan Cavalry at Seneca Mills on June 10, 1863. Two weeks later, JEB Stuart's cavalry rode across the Potomac here in their pre-Gettysburg raid on Rockville which gained them 150 enemy wagons…but deprived Lee of his “eyes and ears” in the war’s most decisive battle. Today, the curious will discover Rowser’s Ford is still there, a literal stone’s throw from Violette’s Lock, #24 in today’s C & O Canal National Historical Park.
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