Our modern day sense of geography is somewhat tainted by our reliance on motor vehicles. Highways, while bringing convenience to our transit and freeing us somewhat from the difficulties faced by our traveling forebears, have allowed us to ignore some of the important way-points of the past. Those traveling west of Warrenton, Virginia towards the Shenandoah most likely use “Lee Highway,” designated U.S. Highway 211 under the Federal system. That route crosses the Rappahannock over a modern, four-lane, concrete and steel bridge.
In 1862, the closest bridge to that site was near the village of Waterloo, a little under a mile upstream from the “Lee Highway” bridge. At the end of aptly named “Old Bridge Road,” or if you prefer the unromantic designation, State Route 622, stands a steel truss bridge at the site of Waterloo Bridge.
I should say a one lane bridge with wooden bed, reinforced with modern trusses and rails. The bridge retains some of its rustic appearance. Perhaps all that the Virginia Department of Transportation can allow.
A state marker on the Culpeper County side mentions some of the bridge’s connection with the Northern Virginia Campaign and events 150 years ago. Not mentioned on the marker is that shortly after Stuart’s ride, Federals under General Franz Sigel moved up to cover the bridge. General Thomas J. Jackson’s troops would cross further upstream at Hinson’s Mill Ford to start the grand flanking manuever towards Manassas Junction.
For those who desire to “walk in the footsteps”, side trips off the main highways are a must.