Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Historic photograph of men, during the Civil War, standing on the bridge at the canal
Historic C&O Canal Lockhouse
NPS

Quick Facts

Location:
Potomac, MD
Significance:
Major port of transportation during the Civil War, seperating the North from the South
Designation:
National Park, National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Landmark

The C&O Canal runs alongside the Potomac River. The river was a dividing line between the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War. The canal was strategically important to both sides. Union forces protected the canal and used it for transportation purposes, moving troops, coal, and war supplies. Confederates tried to damage both the canal and boat traffic. It became the subject of many raids by famous confederate cavalrymen such as Jeb Stuart and John Mosby. Canal mules were taken for the war efforts of both the North and the South. Both sides used the towpath as a road when war came into the state of Maryland.

The people who worked on the C&O Canal were divided by the war. Boatmen joined both sides and fought against former friends and neighbors. Several campaigns were fought on or near the canal.