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Great Falls in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

River Crossing at Conn's Ferry

War of 1812

 
 
River Crossing at Conn's Ferry Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 21, 2017
1. River Crossing at Conn's Ferry Marker
Inscription.
Invasion of Washington City

Following the defeat of American militia forces by British regulars at Bladensburg, Maryland on the afternoon of August 24, 1814, a small British force, consisting mainly of officers, marched into the capital city of the United States and set fire to many of its public buildings, including the Capitol, President's House (today's White House), and Treasury.

Retreat Through Fairfax County

Before the enemy entered the city, President James Madison, his wife, Dolley, and then Secretary of State James Monroe escaped into the Virginia countryside, each taking separate routes. The following day Monroe crossed the Potomac into Maryland to join the American army under the command of General William Winder. That evening both of the Madisons were at Wiley's Tavern, just east of Difficult Run, located on the road running from Alexandria to Leesburg. Dolley remained that night at Wiley's, but the president left the tavern around midnight in anticipation of crossing the river at Conn's Ferry and joining the American forces at Montgomery Courthouse (Rockville).

Horrific Storm Delays Madison's Crossing

After reaching the ferry site, President Madison found the river too dangerous to cross due to an earlier violent thunderstorm in which a tornado
River Crossing at Conn's Ferry Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 21, 2017
2. River Crossing at Conn's Ferry Marker
swept through the City of Washington. The next afternoon, on August 26, he crossed the Potomac via Conn's Ferry and finished his day in Brookville, Maryland. Madison was informed on August 27 that it was safe to return to the nation's capital. Along with Monroe and Attorney General Richard Rush, the president arrived back in the still smoldering city around 5:00 p.m. His home, the President's House, was totally destroyed. The outside walls stood like empty shells. General Robert Young crossed the river with his Alexandria brigade that same afternoon, and the baggage and artillery were transported across the following day.
 
Erected 2016 by the Fairfax County History Commission.
 
Location. 39° 1.103′ N, 77° 14.746′ W. Marker is in Great Falls, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker is on Potomac Hills Street 0.6 miles east of Jeffery Road, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. At Riverbend Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8808 Potomac Hills Street, Great Falls VA 22066, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. American Indians of the Potomac River (within shouting distance of this marker); Washington Aqueduct (approx. 1.2 miles away in Maryland); Great Falls Tavern
James Madison image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 21, 2017
3. James Madison
President James Madison, fourth president of the United States.
Close-up of image on marker
(approx. 1.3 miles away in Maryland); A Lift Lock (approx. 1.3 miles away in Maryland); Boats Passing By (approx. 1.3 miles away in Maryland); Creating a National Park (approx. 1.3 miles away in Maryland); Potomac River (approx. 1.4 miles away in Maryland); Olmsted Island (approx. 1 miles away in Maryland). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Great Falls.
 
Also see . . .  Conn's Ferry. Fairfax County, Virginia Late-18th to Early-19th Century by Debbie Robison January 3, 2010. (Submitted on April 22, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. War of 1812
 
James Monroe image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 21, 2017
4. James Monroe
James Monroe was president Madison's secretary of state when the British burned Washington, City, but after returning to the capital, he also served as acting secretary of war. Monroe became the fifth president of the United States.
Close-up of image on marker
Burning the President's House image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 21, 2017
5. Burning the President's House
British Troops burning the President's House the night of August 24, 1814.
Close-up of Tom Freedman image on marker
The Shell of the President's House image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
6. The Shell of the President's House
This 1815 engraving by William Strickland shows the gutted shell of the damaged President's House with a crooked lightning rod after the fires.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 23, 2017. This page originally submitted on April 22, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 57 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on April 22, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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