Great Falls in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Crossing the Potomac at Rowser's Ford
J.E.B. Stuart's Most Diﬃcult Achievement
Approaching Roswer's, a local citizen informed Hampton that the half-mile wide Potomac was two feet higher than normal, but still fordable. Early evening, Hampton's brigade slowly crossed the rock-strewn ford and reported to Stuart that fording artillery and ammunition would be utterly impossible.
About sunset, Fitz Lee's brigade arrived at Dranesvile and followed Chambliss's to Rowser's. Nearing the ford, the column slowed markedly. The ford was so treacherous that Stuart felt compelled to look for another crossing. After a dangerous search in the moonlight, Capt. Richard Kennon found another ford downstream but reported it impracticable from quicksand, rocks, and rugged banks. Thus, Stuart determined that his entire command would cross at Rowser's.
Around midnight, the moon began its descent and the night grew darker. Each cavalryman was given a shell or powder bag to carry as they crossed the swollen river. The wheeled vehicles and cannon were dragged across, often submerged.
By pure determination, the entire command was safely on Maryland soil around 3 a.m. on the 28th. Miraculously, not a man was lost and the ammunition was dry. Maj. H.B. McClellan, aptly described the crossing, "No more difficult achievement was accomplished by the cavalry during the war."
Erected 2012 by Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.
Location. 39° 3.1′ N, 77° 20.04′ W. Marker is in Great Falls, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: 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. Rowser's Ford (here, next to this marker); Washington's Canal (approx. half a mile away); Watering the Canal (approx. 1.1 miles away in Maryland); Seneca (approx. 1.2 miles away in Maryland); The Seneca Aqueduct (approx. 1.2 miles away in Maryland); a different Rowser’s Ford (approx. 1.2 miles away in Maryland); a different marker also named Rowser’s Ford (approx. 1.7 miles away in Maryland); Life During Encampment in Montgomery County (approx. 1.9 miles away in Maryland). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Great Falls.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 22, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 457 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 22, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.