Formed from headwaters that flow through four states before passing the United States capital, the Potomac River has rightfully been called the Nation’s river. First used as a highway of exploration and settlement by European settlers, the river famously served as an avenue of invasion by British forces during the War of 1812. Forgotten today, between Spring 1861 and early Spring 1862, Confederate batteries effectively stopped all riverine traffic. While the Confederate Blockade of Washington, D. C., never realistically put the fate of the city in doubt, it severely embarrassed the Lincoln Administration, particularly during a time of repeated Union disasters.
Folks often call or email inquiring about upcoming issues. For callers, when I’d say the blockade of the Potomac, after a moment or two of silence the response most often was, “What blockade . . . there was a blockade of the Potomac River? When was that?” Truth be told, my reaction was similar when Rob Orrison, Virginia Historic Site Operations Supervisor for Prince William County (Va.), pitched the idea to me in February. I wasn’t sure there would be enough to warrant a “General’s Tour” treatment. Rob and his coauthor Bill Backus said there was. Bill is Manager of Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park in Prince William County. For the historical enrichment and enjoyment of us all, they were right. Read more
After a wild couple of days, the website and and online store are back to full functionality…shop away!
By Rob Orrison and Bill Backus.
Shown is a view of the Potomac River from Confederate fortifications at Freestone Point near Dumfries, Virginia