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4662[TalkAntietam] Re: Fords: Botelers, Blackford, Packhorse

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  • Thomas Clemens
    Apr 28, 2008
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      IIRC, the "ford" Hampton used was difficult and the water level was high, too high to be used by infantry. Too often the term "ford" and a place where a body of water can be waded are conflated into the same thing. They are quite different. A ford for military usage must possess at least three distinct characteristics: shallow enough for infantry to cross without endangering wetting their cartridge boxes, and moderate current so as not to sweep them off their feet; a firm bottom, bedrock is best, but boulders will obstruct wagons injure horses, sand or mud will allow vehicles to become stuck; and banks low enough to provide ease of entrance and egress for infantry and horse-drawn vehicles. These are what makes a ford usable. There are otehr shallow places where men on horseback, or even on foot can, in small groups wade a stream or river, but that does not make it a ford. Fords were located where much civilian traffic crossed streams and rivers. I agree with Dennis and many other sources that there was one ford, approx. 1.4 miles south of Shepherdstown, but that there may be other places to wade the river.
      Steve, if you and others decide to wade at the ford, do not repeat the mistake of many people, who think that the remains of the Cement Mill dam is the ford, it is not. The ford is several hundred yards downstream.

      Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
      Professor of History
      Hagerstown Community College

      >>> "eighth_conn_inf" <eighth_conn_inf@...> 4/27/2008 7:12 PM >>>

      Thanks Stephen,

      I know most books say that these names (and others) are all for the
      same ford at the cement mill but at this point I remain unconvinced
      that there is only one useable ford in the Sheperdstown area since
      both Stuart and Hampton apparently used other fords on the 18th-19th.
      I saw in Dennis's book that statement on page 64. As we know, when
      the river is low, one may cross at many points but walking across is
      different than taking horses and wagons along.


      --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, Stephen Recker <recker@...>
      > In Dennis Frye's book he says they are all the same ford. IIRC it
      > called different things depending on which side of the river you
      > on or during which historic period.
      > Stephen
      > On Sunday, April 27, 2008, at 10:05 AM, eighth_conn_inf wrote:
      > > I have a Potomac River map from GMCO Pro Series of the Upper
      > > River from Dam 4 to Great Falls. Its Shepherdstown section shows
      > > fords, one called "Blackford Ford" at the Rumsey Bridge and the
      > > named "Packhorse Ford" about 6,000' (1 mi. +) below the Rumsey
      > > It also shows an "Old Cement Mill" about 11,000' (c. 2 mi.) below
      > > bridge across the Potomac from Millers Sawmill Road.
      > >
      > > Were there three fords there in use in 1862: Blackfords at the
      > > Packhorse a mile downstream and Botelers three miles downstream?
      Or is
      > > this map wrong?
      > >
      > > I remember reading recently that Stuart and some of his troopers
      > > they crossed on the 19th into Maryland crossed at a different
      ford from
      > > the rest of the army closer to Shepherdstown because of
      > > perhaps they crossed at Packhorse? I assume that the obscure ford
      > > Blackford found at which Hampton crossed was described as being
      > > Shepherdstown was none of these--where was it?
      > >
      > > Larry F.
      > >
      > >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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