Edwards Ferry – Army HQ and the Artillery

Another installment on the Army of the Potomac’s crossing of the Potomac River in June 1863 on their march to Gettysburg.  Thus far, I’ve briefly looked at the particulars of each of the Army of the Potomac’s infantry corps as they crossed at Edwards FerryI, II, III, V, VI, XI, and XII.  Before looking at the Cavalry Corps, for complete coverage I should mention the crossing of the Army’s headquarters, The Artillery Reserve,  Crawford’s Pennsylvania Reserves Division, and Stannard’s Vermont Brigade.  In the sake of brevity, I’ll discuss the first two here.

On June 26, 1863, the Army Headquarters moved from Fairfax Courthouse to Edwards Ferry and on to Poolesville. (Note 1)  According to the orders posted the previous day, the headquarters schedule called for a start at 3 a.m., and would pass through Hunter’s Mill before reaching the Leesburg Pike. (Note 2)  The obvious route used was Hunter Mill Road, north through Hunter’s Mill, where road crossed Difficult Run, very close to the intersection of the Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad (later the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad).  From there the route connected to the Leesburg Pike east of Dranesville.  From Dranesville, a march of twelve miles brought the column to Edwards Ferry.  Looking again to the McDowell map, the first half of the route is depicted below.

AOP Headquarter's June 26 March
AOP Headquarters' June 26 March

The second leg, a straight march down Leesburg Pike, was rather simple so I won’t waste space here amplifying the obvious.  All told the distance to the crossing point was around 24 miles.  The distance from there to Poolesville was another five.  This route kept the headquarters well east of the VI Corps, which was moving up through the Chantilly-Frying Pan-Herndon axis to Dranesville.

The headquarters element, including presumably the escorting troops, obviously moved faster than the infantry corps.  But even with an early morning start, the column couldn’t have arrived at Edwards Ferry before early afternoon.  Such an arrival places the headquarters at the crossing point about the same time General W. S. Hancock’s II Corps is arriving.  Recall that Assistant Adjutant General Seth Williams cautioned Hancock at 1:50 p.m. on the 26th to allow the passage of other corps trains before moving the II Corps across. (Note 3)  Might Williams’ dispatch have simply been a formality backing up a face to face conversation?

Regardless, the Army Headquarters arrived in Poolesville by early evening.  By 6 p.m. General Joseph Hooker was conversing with Washington via the telegraph with regard to erroneous reports of the General’s presence in the Capitol. (Note 4)   Hooker would have yet one more day at the head of the Army of the Potomac.

The official records offer less details of the Artillery Reserve’s movements.  Orders at 7 a.m. on June 25 placed the artillery in motion for Edwards Ferry.  The five brigades were expected to reach Edwards Ferry that evening.  (Note 5)  The artillery was scheduled to cross on the lower bridge on the following day. (Note 6)  Additional orders forwarded on June 25 elaborated, stating that, “The Artillery Reserve will cross on the lower bridge at Edwards Ferry, and follow the Fifth Corps.” (Note 7)

Such movement orders placed the Artillery Reserve, with 145 pieces of artillery (Note 8), at the crossing point on the morning of June 26.  Running back over the “numbers” and the planning factors, if one adds in the caissons, wagons, and such, the Artillery Reserve had a column over four miles long, if lined up nose to tail.  However, if General R.O. Tyler, commanding the artillery, was true to the orders, this column waited until the V Corps closed on the bridges in the afternoon of June 26.  Even if the guns crossed earlier, it is likely the traffic contributed to the delay reported by II Corps which was also directed to cross on the lower bridge that day.

Route of the Army Headquarters Today:  The route today passes through several congested areas.  But is somewhat easier to replicate than the VI Corps march.  Starting at the Fairfax Courthouse, proceed north on Chain Bridge Road (Va. 123) toward Vienna.  About a mile from the Courthouse, continue straight through the intersection with Fairfax Boulevard (U.S. 50) and a mile further, pass over Interstate 66.   At about three miles from the Courthouse, work into the left hand lane and prepare for a left hand turn onto Hunter Mill Road (CR 674).  Roughly three miles north, cross straight through the intersection with Lawyers Road (CR 673).

Hunter Mill Road has many Civil War related sites, and as mentioned several times before, the bust guide to the area is offered by the Hunter Mill Defense League.  Of note to the passing of the Headquarters is the area around Hunter’s Mill itself, where the road crosses both Difficult Run and the old railroad right of way.  At the later there is a pull off to the left.  A Civil War Trails wayside stands along the trail, on the opposite side of the road, but is relates events from 1862.

Intersection of Hunter Mill Road and W&OD Today
Intersection of Hunter Mill Road and W&OD Today

Continue on Hunter Mill Road.  About mile further north, the road turns left and intersects with Sunrise Valley Drive.  Hunter Mill Road turns north (right) at this intersection and passes under the Greenway Toll Road (Va. 267).  At 2.3 miles from the intersection, modern Hunter Mill Road ends at Baron Cameron Avenue (CR 606).  Turn right and immediately work over to the left lane.  At the next stoplight turn left (west) onto Leesburg Pike (Va. 7).   Continue on what should be a rather familiar route, if you have looked at the infantry corps mentioned in previous posts, down the Pike for roughly 12.5 miles.  Turn right (north) onto Belmont Ridge Road, continuing past two stoplights and then turn left onto Riverpoint Drive.  One may follow the drive around to the Kephart Bridge Landing Regional Park, and thence along the hiking trail to Edwards Ferry.

At this time I do not have sufficient information about the Artillery Reserve march to suggest a route.



  1. Itinerary of the Army of the Potomac and co-operating forces, June 5-July 31, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 143.
  2. Orders from Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, June 25, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 314.
  3. Dispatch to Hancock (at Edwards Ferry) from General Seth Williams, 1:50 p.m., June 26, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 334.
  4. Dispatch from Hooker to Major T. T. Eckert, 6 p.m., June 26, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 58.
  5. Orders from Hooker to Brigadier General R. O. Tyler, 7 a.m., June 25, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 306.
  6. Orders from Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, June 25, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 314.
  7. Orders from Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, June 25, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 318.
  8. Based on Abstract from returns of the Army of the Potomac, June 20, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 151.

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of July 13

Over forty new markers this week in the Civil War category.  These represent Civil War related sites in Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Here’s the high points:

– Fair Haven, Connecticut boasts a rather impressive black marble memorial to the 29th Connecticut (Colored) Infantry Regiment.   The regiment’s active service included action in the Bermuda Hundred and Petersburg Campaigns.

– Three markers indicate the location of Fort Reno, of the Washington, D.C. defenses.  The fort stood at the highest point in the District, and commanded the approaches through Tennelytown to Georgetown.   The fort saw action during the July 11, 1864 Confederate attack on Fort Stevens.

– In the town of Hiram, Georgia, the George Darby House served as Confederate General Patrick Cleburne’s headquarters on May 25, 1864, prior to the battles on the Dallas Line.  Later that year, in October 3-6, 1864, the Colley house served as General John B. Hood’s headquarters.

– Four new entries around Dallas, Georgia further support the interpretation of the battles on the Dallas Line.  One marker discusses the March of Hardee’s Corps (including Cleburne’s Division mentioned above) on May 23-25, 1864.  Another explains the Federal XX Corps assault on Hood’s Corps, May 25, 1864.  General J.E. Johnston maintained a headquarters at the Wigley House, just south of New Hope Church.  Finally another nearby marker details the withdrawal of Polk’s Corps toward Lost Mountain on June 4.

– An impressive memorial Delphi, Indiana honors the Civil War veterans from Carroll County.

– I’m always a sucker for cannon photos.  In Attica, Indiana, a 24-pdr Field Howitzer is mounted on a metal reproduction carriage, with a memorial inscription on the cheeks.

– A memorial to the 120th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in Mansfield, Ohio is supported by four 24-pdr Flank Howitzers.  Nearby the Richland County Soldiers Memorial features a soldier sporting an overcoat and handsome mustache.  While not directly a “Civil War” entry, also in Mansfield is an Ohio state marker detailing the life of John Sherman, politician and brother of General W.T. Sherman.

– Two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles in Marysville, Ohio were used to commemorate victory in the Spanish-American War.  The guns were named “Dewey” and “Sampson” to honor the Admrials made famous by the war.

– Another marker from Kansas City from the October 23, 1864 Battle of Westport tour.  This one is from stop 23, the Thomas Farmhouse.  As the battle closed, Federal leaders met at the farm to discuss options.  Cavalry under Pleasonton and Blunt continued the pursuit of Gen. Sterling Price’s Confederates, culminating in the battle of Mine Creek.

– On practically the opposite end of the Civil War, a marker in St. Albans, Vermont discusses the October 19, 1864 Confederate raid on the town (yes a rather busy October 1864 by markers this week!).

– From Petersburg, Virginia, the McKenney Library was desegregated in 1960, which was a pivitol event for the local Civil Rights movement.  Prior to use as a library, the building was the post war home of General William Mahone, known for his defense of the Crater during the siege of Petersburg.

– Naval constructor John Luke Porter, who’s life is briefly detailed on a marker in Portsmouth, Virginia, supervised the conversion of the USS Merimac into the CSS Virginia in 1862.

– The Monogalia County War Memorial in Morgantown, West Virginia honors Civil War, Spanish American War, and World War I veterans.

– A marker in Scary, West Virginia discusses a small action fought there on July 17, 1861.

– A brand new Civil War Trails marker at the Kennedy Farm, east of Sharpsburg, Maryland, details John Brown’s 1859 activities there, leading up to the raid on Harpers Ferry.

Other new markers in Hagerstown, Maryland discuss that city’s role in the Civil War, with emphasis on the July 1863 retreat from Gettysburg and the Confederate ransom of the town in 1864.  More of these to follow next week, and I promise a full trip report later.

– I mentioned the “new” Antietam markers in a post on Sunday.  Fourteen of those were added this week.

That’s it this week.  A pretty fair sampling with entries from Eastern, Western, and Trans-Mississippi theaters.

Edwards Ferry – Sixth Corps Crossing

Continuing with my look at the Edwards Ferry crossings in June 1863 by units, following the Twelfth, Second, and Fifth Corps which crossed on June 26 was the Sixth Corps.

Major General John Sedgwick’s Sixth Corps was the last of the infantry corps to cross the Potomac at Edwards Ferry, due to its long march from Fairfax County.  In the week prior to the crossing (19-24 June), elements of the Sixth Corps were posted around Germantown, Centreville, and Bristoe Station (General Howe’s Second Division at the later).  On June 25, the Corps concentrated around Germantown and Centreville, preparing for the movement to Edwards Ferry. (Note 1)

In accordance to Major General Joseph Hooker’s movement instructions for June 26, The Sixth Corps proceed at 3 a.m. using a route from the above mentioned bivouacs to Chantilly Church; thence to Frying Pan; and on to Herndon Station; continuing to Dranesville; then follow the Leesburg Pike to Edwards Ferry.  The Sixth Corps had the mission of securing the engineers as they recovered the bridges, and then would follow the Second Corps.  (Note 2)   The route specified did not use Ox Road, which cut almost directly across from Germantown to Frying Pan, and would have saved some distance.

Going back to the McDowell map, the route taken on June 26 by Sixth Corps followed this course:

VI Corps Line of March - June 26
VI Corps Line of March – June 26

The route kept the the Corps well away from the other elements moving on that day.  But all told, the men had to cover over 15 marching miles that day to reach Dranesville.   From There the Corps had another 12 miles down the Leesburg Pike to reach the pontoon bridges.

VI Corps Line of March - June 27
VI Corps Line of March – June 27

Thus for two days of marching, the Sixth Corps covered between 25 and 30 miles of well worn roads.  At 1 p.m. on June 27,  General Butterfield at the Army’s headquarters, inquired about the arrival of Sixth Corps. (Note 3)  Somewhat belatedly, General Henry Benham, Engineer Brigade commander, responded at 8:35 p.m. that two-thirds of the Corps was across.  He stated that Wright’s Division was crossing on the upper bridge.  The march did not stop until the Corps had reached Poolesville.

On paper, the march of Sixth Corps seems short compared to the 25 to 30 mile-a-day pace the same men would sustain in Maryland and Pennsylvania moving up to Gettysburg.  However, keep in mind the road structure the Corps moved across was muddy and badly worn by the previous week’s activity.

Also note that practically as the dust of Sixth Corps’ march settled, Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry moved through Fairfax Courthouse and Dranesville (June 27-28).

The Line of March Today:  I’ll present the Sixth Corps march in two legs.  First the June 26th march.  This route takes a visitor through the heart of Northern Virginia’s commuter country, so time this route around rush hours, and still prepare for delays.  The road infrastructure has changed in the 140 plus years since the war, so this is not a step-by-step trace, but rather an approximate line, using the most expeditious roads without deviating substantially.

A good starting point is Fairfax Courthouse, which has significance in nearly every Eastern Theater campaign.  From the Courthouse proceed west on Main Street (CR 236) until the rather cumbersome intersection with Fairfax Boulevard.  There proceed straight through the intersection, and Main Street now becomes U.S. 50.  About a half mile further, the intersection with Jermantown Road is roughly the wartime location of Germantown.  In another half mile, Carefully select the correct lanes while navigating through the I-66 interchange.   Stay on U.S. 50 West, for a total of six miles from Jermantown Road, to the intersection of Centreville Road (CR 657).

This is roughly were a toll house stood on the old Little River Turnpike.  Just to the southeast is the 1862 Chantilly Battlefield.  Likely the toll house stood a little back to the east, but without sending the visitor along several side streets, this is close to the line of march.  Howe’s Division, moving up from Centreville, about four miles south, entered the line of march around this point.   Turn north (right) onto Centreville Road.

About three and a half miles on Centreville Road, on the right is Frying Pan Meeting House, a prominent locality on wartime movement reports.  Just beyond is Frying Pan Branch, passing under the road unnoticed.  Several Mosby-related sites are nearby, but I’ll skip those to stay on topic for now.

Frying Pan Meeting House
Frying Pan Meeting House

Centreville Road becomes a multi-lane, often congested traffic artery at this point, passing through several stoplights, and under the Greenway Toll Road.  Shortly after the overpass, about two and a half miles from Frying Pan, the road turns into Elden Street (CR 228).  Follow Elden Street as it turns to the right and becomes CR 606 and passes through Herndon.  At the signs for the Washington & Old Dominion crossing, turn into Lynn Street and park if able.  This is Herndon Station, a favorite target of Mosby’s men, and where the VI corps crossed what was the Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad.

Return to Eldon Street.  The wartime route continued northeast from this point, but the modern road structure prevents a direct route to Dranesville.  The road becomes Baron Cameron Avenue.  After about 1.7 miles from Herndon Station, turn north (left) onto Reston Parkway (CR 602) at a stoplight.  Just over two miles further, turn west (left) onto Leesburg Pike (Va 7).  Then proceed about a half mile to the intersection with Georgetown Pike (Va. 193).  This was the village of Dranesville during the war.  A convenient place to stop is the Dranesville Tavern Park, at the next stoplight, about a half mile further down the Pike.

For the second leg, representing the march of June 27, return to Leesburg Pike and continue west.  If you have read the previous marches, many places should be familiar, crossing Sugarland Run and Broad Run along the way.  After about 8.6 miles turn onto the exit for Lansdowne Boulevard.  At the light, turn left onto Riverside Parkway.  At the next light turn right onto Upper Belmot Road, then left onto Riverpointe Road.  Follow the road around to Kephart Bridge Landing Regional Park.  A trail here follows Goose Creek down to the site of the lower pontoon bridge.


  1. Itinerary of the Army of the Potomac and co-operating forces, June 5-July 31, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 142-3.
  2. Orders from Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, June 25, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 314.
  3. Dispatch from Butterfield to Captain Turnbull, 1 p.m., June 27, 1863, OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p.353.
  4. Dispatch from Benham to General S. Williams, 8:35 p.m., June 2, 1863, OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 353.

Antietam Waysides – Old and New

Tipped off by Mannie Gentile, I ventured back to Antietam last weekend to catalog and update the HMDB entries for the waysides at Antietam National Battlefield.  Last spring, just as I completed the HMDB catalog of Antietam markers, monuments, tablets, and memorials, one of the Rangers there mentioned a project to revise the existing set of waysides.  So after about a year of anticipating the change, it was worth a trip up to the battlefield for another round of “marker hunting.”

All told, I’ve tallied eighteen wayside replacements and two new additions (and there may be a few more I’ve missed).  The two new markers were “Battlefield Namesake,” describing the U.S.S. Antietam (CV-36) who’s bell stands in front of the Visitor Center, and a billboard style “War Department Observation Tower” showing the panoramic views from that structure on the Sunken Road.

For the eighteen replacements, what I’ve done in HMDB is enter the new marker as a fresh entry, then tagging the old marker as “replaced.”  This function allows the old marker to remain indexed, but with a note about the replacement entry.  For visitors making a query by map points, only the new, standing markers show.  For the battlefield tours, I’ve left the old markers and added the new markers, basically to allow viewers to make comparisons.

Such comparison of the old and new does allow us to study the techniques used for on site interpretation, as it has evolved over the last 20 years or so.  For example compare the old and new markers for the East Woods (tour stop 3):

Old and New East Woods Markers
Old and New East Woods Markers

Both markers use maps to describe the action, with the later perhaps updated a bit.  But while the old marker’s text  focused almost exclusively on the events around Gen. Mansfield’s death, the new marker is more verbose and details the flow of battle.

At the other end of the battlefield, a replacement marker at Burnside Bridge (tour stop 9) uses the same Forbes sketch and a very similar map:

Old and New Markers - East Side of Burnside Bridge
Old and New Markers - East Side of Burnside Bridge

But the old marker’s map was keyed to six phases, while the new marker simplifies that to three. The new marker opted for, what some might say, is a less “sporty” title.

Overlooking the bridge, the old marker was named “Point Blank Range.”  The replacement opts for a title of “Repulsed Again and Again.”

Old and New - Confederate Overlook of Burnside Bridge
Old and New - Confederate Overlook of Burnside Bridge

The new marker offers more text, more information, a map, and, if you look to the right, a sidebar summarizing the forces engaged and casualties at this phase of the battle.  Several markers use this sidebar format.

Another example of the sidebar in use is the new Cornfield marker (tour stop 4).   Compare the old and new here:

Old and New Cornfield Markers
Old and New Cornfield Markers

With the map included, with numbers matched to paragraphs in the text, the new marker does a lot to break down and explain the confusing fighting in the Cornfield.  The sidebar, to the right as mentioned, further delineates the scale of the fighting and the reason why this field became the “bloody cornfield.”  But missing on the new marker is the photo of the Texans killed along Hagerstown Pike.  That photo, in my opinion, is one of the most poignant taken of a Civil War battle scene.  Perhaps it will be included on a replacement marker for the nearby Johnny Cook marker.

Some of the new markers feature aerial views of the battlefield.  This was done for a marker at the West Woods (tour stop 5):

New and Old - One of three West Woods Markers
New and Old - One of three West Woods Markers

The old marker simply titled “With All Flags Flying“, featured a map.  The new marker, named “The Onward Rush to Victory or Defeat” offers a view from above showing the unit positions and lines of march.

Some of the new markers are complete changes, with entirely new topics.  Such is the case for another marker at the West Woods:

Was Mortuary Monuments - Now Philadephia Brigade Park
Was Mortuary Monuments - Now Philadelphia Brigade Park

The old marker showed the locations of the mortuary markers and briefly discussed each general killed or mortally wounded in the battle.  The new marker discusses the history of the Philadelphia Brigade Park, an portion of the battlefield preserved by veterans then later ceded to the government.

At other stops, things remain more or less the same, to include the title:

Old and New - Destroy the Rebel Army
Old and New - Destroy the Rebel Army

The replacement for the “Destroy the Rebel Army” marker in front of the Dunker Church (tour stop 1) retains the title.  The map is generally the same.   But with a portrait of Stonewall Jackson added to those of Lee and McClellan.  The new marker offers more analysis of McClellan’s opportunity, but the intent of the display remains the same.

Two of the old markers remain on Branch avenue overlooking the southern end of the field.  So I’d appreciate any tips when these are replaced.

Overall I’d say the new markers offer expanded interpretation.  In a time when visitors have access to an unprecedented array of resources – books, brochures, tour books, audio CDs, computer applications, podcasts – the markers are still the means most often used to interpret the battle.  Some may read a reference or listen to a recorded message at each stop, but nearly all who stop will read the marker.  I know, these “park and read” visitors are derided by some as simply “driving by” the battlefield.  But how many of us “caught the bug” reading one of those markers on a family vacation?

Another job well done by the National Park Service staff!

More Unison Battlefield News

I’ve mentioned the preservation efforts at Unison, here in Loudoun County a couple of times before.  In the slow pursuit from Antietam in the fall of 1862, Federal and Confederate cavalry clashed in Loudoun Valley in a series of engagements that included Unison.   The site is on my “Needs a marker” list.

Preservation efforts at Unison are again in the news, with an article in yesterday’s Leesburg Today.  Historians working with the Unison Preservation Society are applying to enlarge the boundry of the battlefield historic district.  If approved, the district will extend from Philomont on the Snickersville Turnpike (CR 731) down to U.S. Highway 50 near Upperville.  The proposed change also extends west to Paris and Asby’s Gap.

If approved, this new boundary no only includes sites related to the  1862 fighting, but also parts of the June 1863 cavalry fighting associated with the Gettysburg campaign. The boundary change is not a solid assurance of preservation, however.  Local zoning rules still apply.  But if approved at least additional checks would exist to (hopefully) prevent rampant development, which is the often cited ill of Northern Virginia.

The current district is defined a 2003 application to the Department of the Interior for National Register of Historic Places inclusion.  The application is available on the Virginia Department of Historic Resources site (PDF).  The Unison Preservation Society offers a copy of the National Park Service report on the battle, for a $25 donation, on their web site.

Edwards Ferry – Fifth Corps Crossing

The Federal Fifth Corps, like the Twelfth Corps, stayed in Loudoun County for several days before the crossing at Edwards Ferry.  The men wearing the Maltese Crosses were involved with the cavalry fighting in Loudoun Valley during that stay.  The Fifth Corps, commanded by Major General George Meade, first arrived in Loudoun on June 17, marching from Manassas Junction to Gum Springs.  Two days later the Corps moved up to Aldie, behind the cavalry which was moving toward Middleburg.  On the 21st,  Col. Strong Vincent’s Brigade moved to assist the Brig. Gen. D.M. Gregg’s cavalry division to press the Confederates down the Ashby’s Gap Turnpike.   (Note 1)  Vincent’s Brigade marched thirteen miles that day and fought at both Bittersweet Farm and at Goose Creek Bridge.  (But that is a story for another post….) (Note 2)

Goose Creek Bridge near Upperville
Goose Creek Bridge near Upperville

Also while posted near Aldie, Meade made an attempt to capture Major John Mosby.  On June 22, portions of the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry and the 14th U.S. Infantry set an ambush at Ewell’s Chapel, about four miles south of Aldie.  As with many “Mosby” incidents, the “Gray Ghost” foiled the attempt. (Note 3)

Site of Ewell's Chapel Today
Site of Ewell’s Chapel Today

Fifth Corps remained in the vicinity of Aldie until June 26.  The order to move, posted on June 25th, read:

The Fifth Corps (Aldie) will march at 4 a.m., crossing Goose Creek at Carter’s Mill; thence to Leesburg, crossing the Potomac at the upper bridge at Edwards Ferry and the Monocacy at its mouth and follow the river road in the direction of Frederick City. (Note 4)

Fairly straight forward marching orders, which placed the Fifth Corps behind Twelfth Corps in the line of march.  As part of the instructions to Twelfth Corps, Hooker’s orders required a formal handover of the defense of Leesburg to Fifth Corps.  Of course, before crossing, Fifth Corps would turn over any remaining posts to the Cavalry also moving up to Leesburg that day.  Again, referring to the McDowell Map, here is what I think the Corps line of march looked like:

V Corps Line of March
V Corps Line of March – June 26

While not stated as such, the choice of Carter’s Mill as a crossing point over the Goose placed the Corps on the old Aldie Pike (Modern U.S. Highway 15).  An alternate crossing point was Evergreen Mills, along the Old Carolina Road (Modern CR 621).   But that was not directed in the orders.  I cannot rule out the Corps used farm lanes or side roads to connect to the Old Carolina Road at some point, but it seems logical from the orders that Meade stayed on the Aldie Pike.

Aldie Mill
Aldie Mill

For the Fifth Corps march on June 26, the distance from Aldie to Carter’s Mill is roughly five and a half marching miles.  From the mill to Leesburg is about seven more miles.  Then from the center of Leesburg to Edwards Ferry is about four miles.  Thus the Corps had a sixteen to seventeen mile march to the bridge.

Goose Creek near Carter's Mill
Goose Creek near Carter’s Mill

I have scant accounts of the march to Leesburg, but don’t doubt the story was similar to that told in the other Corps.   The good news for Fifth Corps, once across Goose Creek, the terrain was a bit dryer, only crossing Sycolin and Tuscarora Creeks.  And the route had not seen heavy traffic up to this point.

No accounts I’ve seen relate when the Corps arrived at Edwards Ferry.  Presumably, given the distance, as with Second Corps, it arrived early- to mid-afternoon.  General W.S. Hancock, commanding the Second Corps, reported, as discussed in the previous post, all traffic had cleared the bridges by 11:45 p.m. on of June 26.  If one reads Hancock literally, the Fifth Corps was across by that time.

Regimental accounts state some elements of the Corps moved four to six miles beyond Edwards Ferry.  (Note 5)  The orders did not specify the route selected for Fifth Corps beyond the crossing.  While they might have used the towpath as the Twlefth Corps was directed, it is also possible the Fifth Corps marched up the road to Poolesville, then turned toward the Monocacy.  For instance, the 155th Pennsylvania regimental history records an overnight stay near Poolesville. (Note 6)

Regardless, the Fifth Corps was across the Potomac that evening, and on June 27 resumed the march north towards  Houck’s Ridge, George Rose’s 26-acre Wheatfield, and a set of rocky knolls.  Along the way, however, it’s commander would get a promotion.

Where Meade Assumed Command of the Army of the Potomac
Where Meade Assumed Command of the Army of the Potomac, Frederick, Md.

Line of March Today:  The route of Fifth Corps follows some rather heavily traveled roads today, and visitors should exercise caution and plan around peak traffic hours.  The best starting point is Aldie Mill in Aldie.  The mill is part of the Northern Virginia Regional Parks system and is open seasonally.  Interpretive markers on site discuss the mill’s operations, and also the cavalry actions fought around the town.

From the mill, proceed east on the John Mosby Highway (U.S. Highway 50, and the old Ashby’s Gap Turnpike).  At about a mile, grit your teeth and deal with the new round-about placed at Gilbert’s Corner.  Pass three-quarters of the way around, and proceed north on U.S. 15 (the old Aldie Pike).   Continue for about 4.4 miles.  Just past the bridge over Goose Creek, turn right onto CR 650 and park in front of the Church of Our Savior (dates to the 1870s).

There are dozens of historical sites to point out near the crossing of the Goose, but I’ll stick to those on topic today.  Carter’s Mill stood on the creek bank nearby (there are some stone ruins on the opposite side of U.S. 15 here), and the mill race ran all the way to the modern bridge.  The miller’s house is a private residence along CR 650.  The fording point was likely just downstream of the mill dam.   Debris of the dam are scattered in the creek just opposite the entrance to CR 650.

Return to U.S. 15 and continue north toward Leesburg.  Continue for about seven miles into the city.  Turn right, next to the County Courthouse, onto Market Street.  After a block, make a half left onto Edwards Ferry Road (CR 733) for just over three miles, passing through two stop-signs, and six stop lights.  As with the XII Corps march, the route must end at the entrance to the River Creek Community.


  1. Itinerary of the Army of the Potomac and co-operating forces, June 5-July 31, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 142-3.
  2. Report of Brig. Gen. James Barnes, U.S. Army, commanding First Division,  June 22, 1863. OR. Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 598-9.  The Battle of Upperville is outside the scope of this post, but an overview account of the action, with an excellent set of maps is provided by the Citizens Committe for the Historic Cavalry Battles of Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville.
  3. Report of Capt. W. Henry Brown, Fourteenth U.S. Infantry, June 22, 1863.  OR. Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 641-2.
  4. Orders from Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, June 25, 1863.  OR, Series I, Volume 27, Serial 45, p. 314.
  5. One example is the Report of Capt. Andrew Sheridan, Third U.S. Infantry, July 28, 1863.  OR. Series I, Volume 27, Serial 43, p. 637.  He reports bivouacking four miles from the ferry, then proceeding to Frederick, Md. the next day.
  6. Cited in Schildt’s Roads to Gettysburg, p. 245.

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of July 6

Numbers are up this week.  Fifty-four entries.  These represent Civil War topics in D.C., Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.   Here’s the highlights:

– Two markers from the Cultural Tourism D.C. series this week, both near Fort McNair.  The first briefly discusses the fort’s role as a depot and armory during the Civil War – text supported by a couple of wartime photographs.  The second discusses the Law House, near where Lincoln greeted reinforcements arriving to stop General Jubal Early’s attack on Fort Stevens.

– A memorial simply called “Silence” honors Georgians killed at Gettysburg and buried in Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetery.

– Three markers from Cobb County, Georgia – Johnson’s Line East of Kennesaw, Hardee’s Corps at Powder Springs, and the William Nickols House – all discuss activities in the county in May-June 1864.

– Four markers from Paulding County, Georgia discuss the actions on the Dallas-New Hope Line, May 23-28, 1864.  The markers discuss Federal movements around Old Burnt Hickory Post Office, General Jefferson Davis’ Division movements, and the Famous Kentucky Orphan Brigade.

– In Covington, Georgia, three new entries discuss Federal raids and marches through the town.  On July 20-24, 1864 a Cavalry Division under General Kenner Garrard led a raid that came through the town, cutting off communications between Atlanta and Augusta (a marker entered in January goes into more detail about Garrard’s activity in Covington).  Days later, on July 28, General George Stoneman’s ill fated raid past through Covington.  Finally, on November 18, the 14th Corps marched through on the March to the Sea.

– A “Bleeding Kansas” theme this week starts in Lawrence, Kansas with a marker discussing raids by pro-slavery forces in 1855 and the Quantrill Raid of August 21, 1863.  Raiders on both occasions destroyed the Free State Hotel.  And a sizable number of casualties of both raids were initially buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, where a memorial stands to unknown Union dead.

– Quantrill also raided Shawneetown, near the border with Missouri, on October 17, 1862.

– A marker in Topeka, Kansas provides more reminders of that turbulent time in the Territory of Kansas.  In 1856, the U.S. Dragoons dispersed the territorial legislature.  John Brown hid runaway slaves in Topeka.

– A unique memorial from Missouri adds to last week’s Burnt District entry.  The memorial is in the shape of a chimney, and has interpretive panels on each side.

– Two more entries for the Kansas City Round Table tour of the Battle of Westport.  Stops 21 and 22 of the tour cover incidents along the Santa Fe Road.

– The Park Service, knowing that I needed to revisit Antietam, opted to replace the older interpretive markers at the battlefield in order to lure me back out.  The first of these are posted now, with more to follow.  I like the new look of the markers.  Particularly that for the Dunker Church.

– Three new entries this week covering Stoneman’s “end of the war” Raid in North Carolina.   Tracing by this week’s markers – the raid passed through Blowing Rock on March 28, 1865; later on the return, the raid passed through Lenoir on April 15-17;   and a portion of Stoneman’s command clashed with local Home Guard at Morganton on April 17.  At the later place, many Unionists complained the Federals plundered their personal supplies.

– And on that note about North Carolina Unionists, a simple stone memorial in Hendersonville recalls the Union Veterans of Henderson County, North Carolina.

– Out on Cape Hatteras, of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a wayside relates the story of the Fanny, a Federal tug seized by Confederates in October 1861.

– An addition to the Battle of Bentonville set this week.  A state marker stands at an I-95 rest stop, near Fayetteville, North Carolina.  While well outside the battle area, maybe it does prompt a few visitors to get off the highway to see the field.  Note the three reasons listed for Bentonville’s importance.

– From Haskins, Ohio, another member of Andrew’s Raiders is recalled on a state marker.  John A. Wilson, of the 21st O.V.I. was captured during the raid, but later escaped.  Wilson was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1863.

– In Tontogany, Ohio, a state marker indicates the Custer Homestead, where the family of the cavalry general lived in the 1850s.  The text highlights the story of Tom Custer, recipient of two Medal of Honors (Namozine Church and Sailor’s Creek).

– A plaque attached to a statue of General James McPherson, near the General’s grave in Clyde, Ohio, relates details of the General’s career.

– On the Paris Island Marine Corps Depot, a marker interprets the events of the battle of Port Royal,  November 7, 1861.

Harry Smeltzer corrected me on a marker for the Wisconsin Sharpshooters.  Having seen it from a distance, I thought for sure it was some warning about buried utility lines.  But no, it is a genuine artifact, placed by a veteran of the U.S. Sharpshooters, at the spot where his company fought at 2nd Manassas.  A note at the bottom relates some of the unique details of this simple wooden “sign” and why I felt it deserved inclusion in the database.

– The man “left holding the bag” at Island Number 10 – General William Mackall –  is buried in the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church Cemetery in McLean, Virginia.  See the related set for other markers offering bits about Mackall’s life and military career.

– Three markers from Richmond, Virginia this week.  Monroe Park, which served as a drill field for the Confederates, features a memorials to General Williams Carter Wickham and General Fitzhugh Lee (his Spanish-American War service).

– The Stewart House in Richmond was the site of several famous photos of Robert E. Lee, taken after the surrender at Appomattox.

– The Virginia Historical Society features a memorial to the one and one-half million horses killed during the Civil War.  Yes, this does remind me of a similar memorial in Middleburg, Virgina (photo 4).

Four new markers in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia interpret the old armory grounds.  The markers discuss the destruction of the armory in April 1861,  the escape of Union cavalry from the siege of the town in September 1862,  and the temporary “contraband camp” at the site of the old armory.

Two six-pounder field guns grace the downtown of Moundsville, West Virginia.  One was produced by N.P. Ames of Boston.  The other in Nashville by a Confederate foundry.  The later was captured at the battle of Droop Mountain on November 6, 1863.

Six entries this week for the Battle of Parkers Crossroads in Tennessee.  Normally I’d have a “complete set” entered.  But when visiting earlier this year, I could push the wife’s patience only so far!  The others must wait for another trip or another marker hunter.  The battlefield is bisected by Interstate 40, which, while making it easy to reach, makes interpretation difficult.

That’s it for this week.  Look for more of the “new” Antietam markers next week.  A few more Missouri-Kansas entries are in the queue this morning for next week’s list, also.