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Poolesville in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Edwards Ferry
Strategic Crossing

— Gettysburg Campaign —
 
Edward's Ferry Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, July 7, 2007
1. Edward's Ferry Marker
 
Inscription. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s 75,000-man, seven-corps Army of the Potomac crossed the Potomac River here, June 25-27, 1863, on the way to Gettysburg. The army crossed on two 1,400-foot-long pontoon bridges. Heavy rains during those three days made the single road to and from the bridges extremely muddy.

On the afternoon of June 28, Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalrymen, having crossed the Potomac into Maryland just south of here at Violettes Lock, burned 15 barges loaded with government stores in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal near here. They also captured mules and men working the barges.

This had been a strategically important crossing since Jun 1861, when Union troops first camped here. They suffered Confederate surprise attacks throughout the war. Col. Elijah V. White’s 35th Battalion Virginia Cavalry, which included troopers from the area, captured 16 Union soldiers and 35 horses and mules in August 1863. During Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early’s retreat after he threatened Washington in July 1864, his cavalry destroyed the Union camp, the canal lock, and several canal boats. Confederates attacked again across the frozen river in February 1865, bringing back 14 horses and equipment.

(sidebar) In December 1861, Professor Thaddeus Lowe, U.S. Chief of Aeronauts, established a base here for frequent balloon ascents
 
Marker, Boat Ramp, River, and Virginia Shore in the Distance Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, June 7, 2007
2. Marker, Boat Ramp, River, and Virginia Shore in the Distance
 
to observe Confederate movements across the river near Leesburg. Although the Confederates attempted camouflage and concealment, the balloon reconnaissance proved fruitful and continued until March 1862. Gen. Charles P. Stone, commanding Federal troops camped nearby, made at least one ascent himself.
 
Erected by Maryland Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Maryland Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 39° 6.2′ N, 77° 28.392′ W. Marker is in Poolesville, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker is on Edward's Ferry Road, on the right. Click for map. The marker is inside the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, at the end of Edward’s Ferry Road. It is at the edge of a public boat ramp parking lot. Marker is in this post office area: Dickerson MD 20842, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. An Ideal Crossing (within shouting distance of this marker but has been reported missing); At the Junction of War and Peace: (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Edward’s Ferry (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park (approx. 1.1 miles away in Virginia); a different marker also named Edwards Ferry (approx. 1.2 miles away in Virginia); Ice House (approx. 2 miles away in Virginia); Carriage House (approx. 2.1 miles away in Virginia); Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park (approx. 2.1 miles away in Virginia). Click for a list of all markers in Poolesville.
 
A Summer Morning on the Potomac Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, July 7, 2007
3. A Summer Morning on the Potomac
Opposite Edward’s Ferry in Virginia is the present day River Creek Country Club, adjacent to the mouth of Goose Creek.
 

 
More about this marker. The marker features a portrait of U.S. Gen. Joseph Hooker and wartime sketch of pontoon bridging, captioned, Pontoon boats on their way from Aquia Creek to the Rappahannock, by H. Lovie. The sidebar has a picture of wartime balloon operations, Prof. Thaddeus Lowe replenishing balloon Intrepid at Fair Oaks, Va, May 1862.
 
Regarding Edwards Ferry. By the time of the Civil War, Edward’s Ferry was a place name rather than an operating ferry. Because bridges over the C & O Canal remained from the days of ferry operations, this was one of a few crossing points for traffic traversing the canal. Thus the community of Edward’s Ferry out lasted the actual ferry.
 
Also see . . .  Harper's Weekly Reprint for the Battle of Edward's Ferry. (Submitted on July 14, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
 
Edward's Ferry Boat Ramp From the Virginia Side Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, August 17, 2007
4. Edward's Ferry Boat Ramp From the Virginia Side
In this view, from the mouth of Goose Creek, the Edwards Ferry boat ramp is clearly seen on the Maryland shore. The two pontoon bridges spanned the river here in June 1863. The Federal engineers, in addition to the two main spans, built additional bridges over Goose Creek and the canal on the Maryland side. The Army of the Potomac numbered over 90,000 at this time, with the majority crossing at this point. In addition were the supply trains and additional support elements that followed in the army's wake. Thus Edward's Ferry has been called the greatest river crossing operation on the North American continent.
 
 
U.S. General Joseph Hooker Photo, Click for full size
By Allen C. Browne, October 26, 2014
5. U.S. General Joseph Hooker
Close-up of photo on marker
 
 
Pontoon Boats Photo, Click for full size
By Allen C. Browne, October 26, 2014
6. Pontoon Boats
"Pontoon boats on their way from Aquia Creek to the Rappahannock," from a sketch by H. Lovie (The American Scholar in the Civil War).
Close-up of image on marker
 
 
<i>Intrepid</i> Photo, Click for full size
By Allen C. Browne, October 26, 2014
7. Intrepid
Prof. Thaddeus Lowe replenishing balloon Intrepid at Fair Oaks, Va., 1862
Close-up of photo on marker
 
 
You Are Here Photo, Click for full size
By Allen C. Browne, October 26, 2014
8. You Are Here
Close-up of map on marker
 
 
Looking Down River from the Boat Ramp Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, July 7, 2007
9. Looking Down River from the Boat Ramp
When crossing in June 1863, the Federal engineers placed two pontoon bridges across the Potomac to provide ample traffic flow. Additional pontoon spans were built across the mouth of Goose Creek on the Virginia side and across the canal ditch on the Maryland side.
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on July 14, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 5,714 times since then. Last updated on July 29, 2010, by Sarah Hovde of Rocky Ridge, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on July 14, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on July 14, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   3. submitted on July 14, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   4. submitted on January 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on October 28, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   9. submitted on July 14, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
 
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