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LOVES_130210_02.JPG: Colonial Dumfries - Williams Ordinary
Williams Ordinary is believed to have been built in the 1760s, although the exact construction date is unknown. The building’s symmetrical fašade features header bond, a brick pattern rarely found in Virginia. This building was one of the most prominent structures in colonial Dumfries and reflected the port town’s importance and wealth.
While the building is known as Williams Ordinary, records are unclear as to whether local tavern keeper George Williams occupied this structure during the 1700s. The building’s name has changed to indicate various owners or uses. It has been called Love’s Hotel, Old Love’s Tavern, the Brick Tavern and the Stagecoach Inn. Research on the building is ongoing.
Founded in 1749 by Scottish merchants, Dumfries’ port rivaled those in Boston and New York. Dumfries became the Prince William County seat in 1759. Sailors, slaves, merchants and members of the influential Lee, Fairfax, Mason and Washington families frequented the town. By 1763, falling tobacco exports and silt clogging the port began Dumfries’ slow economic decline.
What’s an Ordinary?
The term ordinary was common in Europe and early America. These establishments provided travelers with an ordinary meal and sleeping space. Such places were also called taverns or inns. Ordinaries were the social centers of a community where patrons met and exchanged news. Many taverns operated in Dumfries, but those operating in this building were likely among its finest.
LOVES_130210_08.JPG: Dumfries - Love’s Tavern
Dumfries, an important Potomac River port chartered in 1749, became strategically significant in the autumn of 1861 when Confederate forces built batteries along the Potomac River nearby to blockade Washington, D.C. Gen. William H.C. Whiting, commanding Confederate forces, established his headquarters here at Love’s Tavern (Williams’s Ordinary) while winter camps were erected around Dumfries. After the Confederates evacuated the town in March 1862, Col. Charles Candy’s Federal troops moved in.
On December 27, 1862, Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and 1,800 cavalry troopers attacked the Federal garrisons at Dumfries and Occoquan. Part of Stuart’s command, led by Gens. Fitzhugh Lee and W.H.F. Rooney Lee, assaulted Dumfries from the north and south. Stuart’s Horse Artillery bombarded the town, destroying many buildings, but Candy’s Federals repulsed numerous attacks. The losses on both sides were relatively light.
The Confederates shelled the town until dark and the next morning moved north to join their comrades then riding into Fairfax County, where Stuart engaged the Union garrison at Occoquan and captured supplies at Burke Station. Dumfries remained under Federal control for the rest of the war, but various Confederate partisan bands launched attacks periodically until the close of the war.
"Gen. Johnston arrived here [Dumfries] this evening, and is now staying at Gen. Whiting’s head quarters. He will remain here a day or two inspecting the army and then return to Centreville. His arrival has been a course of much rejoicing, and hundreds have been in town today, to get a glimpse of their Chief. They will have an opportunity tomorrow."
-– Times dispatch, November 27, 1861
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2013 photos: So far, my camera is mostly the Fuji X-S1 but, depending on the event, I'm also using a Nikon D7000 and Nikon D600.
Trips this year have been limited to a Civil War Trust conference in Memphis.