Rowser's Ford

Rowser's Ford (HM14J6)

Location: Sterling, VA 20165 Fairfax County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 3.1', W 77° 20.04'

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5,000 Confederate Cavalrymen Crossed

— Gettysburg Campaign —

(Preface): After Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's stunning victory at Chancellorsvile in May 1863, he led the Army of Northern Virginia west to the Shenandoah Valley, then north through central Maryland and across the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania. Union Gen. George G. Meade, who replaced Gen. Joseph Hooker on June 28, led the Army of the Potomac in pursuit. Confederate cavalry under Gen. J.E.B. Stuart cut Federal communication and rail lines and captured supplies. The armies collided at Gettysburg on July 1, starting a battle that neither general planned to fight there. Three days later, the defeated Confederates retreated, crossing the Potomac River into Virginia on July 14.

On the evening of June 27, 1863, Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart passed by here en route to Rowser's Ford (named for the Rowzee family), a little-known and treacherous river crossing at the bottom of this hill. About 5,000 men followed Stuart. They included his best three cavalry brigades under Gen. Wade Hampton, Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, and Gen. John Chambliss (replacing the wounded Gen. W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee), and six pieces of horse artillery under Capt. James Breathed.

Having been diverted from his initial route by the Union II Corps at Haymarket, Stuart took a new circuitous path north to Fairfax Court House early on June 27. There, he skirmished with the 11th New York Cavalry (Scott's Nine Hundred) and then halted his column for a few hours to rest and refresh his men and horses. Finding an ample bounty of supplies in the village, Stuart realized that it had been the Army of the Potomac's headquarters under the command of Gen. Joseph Hooker, who had departed the previous day.

From the courthouse, Stuart and most of his command took Hunter Mill Road to Dranesville and then crossed the Potomac River here en route to Pennsylvania, while Hooker and his army crossed miles upriver at Edward's Ferry. Ironically, both movements ended in disaster for each commander. Hooker resigned his command the following day and Stuart missed the opening two days of the war's defining battle, Gettysburg.
HM NumberHM14J6
Year Placed2012
Placed ByVirginia Civl War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 at 1:38am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 298030 N 4325102
Decimal Degrees39.05166667, -77.33400000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 3.1', W 77° 20.04'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 3' 6.00" N, 77° 20' 2.40" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)703, 571
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 307 Potomac Heritage Trail, Sterling VA 20165, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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