Union Soldiers on the Banks of the Potomac

What an incredible photo. We dug this one up thanks to Reddit.

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Union soldiers guarding the Potomac River in Washington, DC in 1861. Georgetown University is visible in the background. Photo by George Barnard
Union soldiers guarding the Potomac River in Washington, DC in 1861. Georgetown University is visible in the background. Photo by George Barnard

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • Joe

    Taken from Roosevelt island looking towards Georgetown and M street where Key bridge now is located

    Georgetown U. On top of hill

  • Any ideas on what the soldiers are doing with that heavy rope? Pulling a barge across from the docks maybe? Those very rocks are still accessible on the trail that encircles Roosevelt Island

  • Audrey Burtrum-Stanley

    The configuration of this beautiful, outstanding boulder seem as though one side has a man-made cut with perhaps half missing! A grand project for a hearty scout in the D.C. neighborhood, would be to stroll the river’s bank and see if they can find this same rock. A snapshot of it for a BEFORE & AFTER presentation. Thi is really a wonderful, wonderful picture!
    Many of the Gettysburg boulders, strewn with the broken bodies of the 1860s war dead, are easy to identify because of the photographic images recorded at the conflict’s hem. The Kodak prints of the 1960s Centennial era, accurately ‘n hauntingly recorded what the area looked like in the mid-20th Century; and so forth on through today…. Without those rocks in place, historians could only guess about true locations. Sooooo, this gigantic outcropping (in the photo presented here on this website) is ‘hopefully’ a natural landmark that still is in place!

    • Boodledoo

      This looks like the bank of what is now Roosevelt Island. There are boulders on the side of the island that faces Georgetown.

      • WFDT

        Indeed- I did some detective work on Google Earth. If one draws a line from the extant buildings of Georgetown University, over the rampart of the Aqueduct Bridge below it in the photo, the line comes to a group of boulders on the northwest point of Roosevelt Island located at 38 53’59.72″ N; 77 03’54.56″ W.