148 Years Ago: Edwards Ferry

148 years ago this morning, just a few miles from where I am comfortably typing, engineers of the Army of the Potomac worked to retrieve pontoon bridges over the Potomac.  Over the previous three days those pontoon bridges supported the crossing of the Army as it shifted base from northern Virginia into Maryland, and thence to Pennsylvania.

Edwards Ferry 015
Edwards Ferry

The Army of the Potomac had crossed the river it was named for, and headed north in pursuit of General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.  The two forces would clash a few days later at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The “road” to Gettysburg ran through Edwards Ferry.

I wrote a score of posts on the Edwards Ferry crossing over the last couple of years.  While the topic has been out of my blogging queue as I turn towards topics keeping in line with the 150th observances, I’ve continued research behind the scenes. I also have a few exciting projects regarding the Edwards Ferry crossing site.  Hopefully I’ll have something to announce in the next few months.

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

2 thoughts on “148 Years Ago: Edwards Ferry

  1. Dear Mr Swain–I am interested in the origin of Edwards Ferry Rd/Edwards Ferry–Who was Edwards??
    My ancestor James S Edwards (1815-1897) came to Chattanooga(Ross’s Landing) from Leesburg Va when he was 20 years old (1835), a pioneer citizen of Chattanooga. Please forward any information you may have uncovered regarding Edwards Ferry(circa 1800) and the Edwards family. I find it ironic that he may have left a ferry business in Va to journey to another ferry business in Chattanooga at Ross’s Landing(Chief John Ross). Regards–Dr Walter C Edwards MD- LCdr/MC/ USN/RVN/RET

    1. Here’s what I know of the ownership of Edwards Ferry.

      Edwards Ferry was established by Benjamin Edwards in the 1750s. We don’t know exactly when he began the service. But in 1758 he received an official grant to run an “ordinary” along with ferry service from the mouth of Goose Creek to the Maryland side.

      His son, Benjamin Edwards, Jr. took over the business around about the time of the Revolutionary War. I don’t know for sure when. Jr. died in 1803 and passed the ferry to his widow, Elizabeth. She ran the ferry (and a nearby mill) until at least 1829.

      Daniel G. Smith purchased the former Edwards lands in the second quarter of the 19th century. He owned that land until about 1866.

      In the 1860s, Elisha White (former Confederate colonel commanding the 35th Battalion Virginia Cavalry and a prominent Loudoun businessman), purchased the ferry and landing. White ran this crossing and other lucrative crossing points (White’s Ferry, White’s Ford and others) trading across the state lines.

      While not complete, that’s the trace of ownership I have on file for Edwards Ferry.

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