Blackford's Ford

Blackford's Ford (HM1OW1)

Location: Sharpsburg, MD 21782 Washington County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 26.183', W 77° 48'

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Advance and Retreat

— Early's 1864 Attack on Washington —

In June 1864, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee sent Gen. Jubal A. Early's corps from the Richmond battlefields to the Shenandoah Valley to country Union Gen. David Hunter's army. After driving Hunter into west Virginia, Early invaded Maryland to attack Washington, D.C., draw Union troops from Richmond, and release Confederate prisoners held at Point Lookout. The next day, Johnson sent Maj. Harry Gilmor's regiment to raid the Baltimore area. Union Gen. Lew Wallace delayed Early at the Battle of Monocacy on July 9. Federal reinforcements soon strengthened the capital's defenses. Early attacked there near Fort Stevens on July 11-12 and then withdrew to the Shenandoah Valley with the Federals in pursuit. He stopped them at Cold Springs on July 17-18. Despite failing to take Washington or free prisoners, Early succeeded in diverting Federal resources.

The Confederate States of America, forced as Southern states seceded from the Union in 1860-1861, was located across the Potomac River during the Civil war. The river was, to Confederates, the boundary between two warring nations. You are standing in the United States Here in Maryland.

On July 5, 1864, a column under Gen. Jubal A. Early crossed Blackford's Ford (named after a Maryland estate owner) here in the third and final Confederate invasion of Maryland and the North. Abandoning his plan to capture Harpers Ferry first, Early relied on the elements of speed and surprise to sow confusion among his adversaries and accomplish his goals: to attack Washington, draw Federal troops from the vicinity of Richmond, and free Confederate prisoners held at Point Lookout. Even moving with haste, it took Early's men until the next day to complete the crossing.

On two other occasions, Confederate armies invaded the North using this ford. After the bridges upstream from Washington were destroyed, natural fords replaced them as strategic crossing points. Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's men splashed across here during the Antietam Campaign in September 1862. Gen. Robert E. Lee's entire army retreated past here after the Battle of Antietam. During the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign, Lee's second invasion of the North began here. Like the other two invasions, Early's 1864 campaign was unsuccessful. His threat to Washington, 78 miles downstream from here, did draw Federal reinforcements from Richmond and Petersburg, but his attack had little effect on the Union campaign against the Confederate capital.
HM NumberHM1OW1
Placed ByMaryland Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 at 1:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 259020 N 4368946
Decimal Degrees39.43638333, -77.80000000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 26.183', W 77° 48'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 26' 10.98" N, 77° 48' 0" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, Sharpsburg MD 21782, US
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