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Major General Edward Braddock
General in Chief of His Majesty's Forces in North America

Gen. Braddock


Searching for Dowden's Ordinary

Celebrating Braddock's Trip through Maryland
by Digging for Dowden's Ordinary.

On Saturday, May 14, 2005, the Mid-Potomac Chapter of the Archaeology Society of Maryland celebrated Gen. Braddock's march through Maryland by sponsoring a volunteer archaeology dig at the site of Dowden's Ordinary in what is now Clarksburg, Maryland. None of the ordinaries that Braddock stopped at in Maryland still exist, so this was an excellent chance to commemorate the march and recover some lost history.

panorama of the archaeology site of Dowden's Ordinary

Site of Dowden's Ordinary
extent of site of Dowden's Ordinary

The pictures above show the site as it sits today amidst large developments. Even as the team worked today, the sights and sounds of major excavation and building could be seen and heard all around. The road to the left is MD Rt 355, a major road running just north of I-270. Clarksburg is about one half mile west of the site. In colonial times it was one of the few roads in the middle colonies that ran west toward the mountains. Gen. Braddock had been told that his troops could march through Maryland all the way to Fort Cumberland at Will's Creek, but this turned out to be untrue. There was no road west of Frederick to Will's Creek. His army had to recross the Potomac and march through Virginia to Maryland's western outpost.

DAR Monument
Eighteenth century soldiers discussing the dig with an archaeologist

We see here two eighteenth century soldiers discussing the site with an archaeologist. To the right are a mockup of an Indian and a British soldier of the 44th Regiment next to the large rock marker set up by the DAR to commemorate Gen. Braddock's visit to Dowden's Ordinary.

Rock monument set up by DARinscription of tablet commemorating Braddock's visit to Dowden's Ordinary

Educational Display
display board explaining Braddock's role in the French & Indian war

There was a display board with information about Gen. Braddock's march through Maryland and his role in the French and Indian War. Below we see a closeup of the display case with annotated colonial artifacts.

glass case displaying colonial artifacts


box of artifacts dug from nearby pit
There was a box of artifacts just recovered from a nearby pit that appears to have been some kind of a trash pit or dump. It contains some eighteenth century artifacts.
Volunteers were digging the feature next to the display.

artifact box on table next to pit where they were recovered

Photograph of Original Building
old photograph of Dowden's Ordinary
Research in local libraries and archives had discovered this only photograph of the original Dowden's Ordinary. The building was torn down sometime in the 1920s.

Archaeological Tasks
screening dirt searching for artifacts
cataloging artifacts
There are many tasks that must be done very carefully on an archaeological site. Here we see several jobs including sifting the dirt through a small screen in order to find artifacts (above left), washing the dirt and debris of ages off the artifacts (upper right) and, just to the left, the important job of carefully attaching a note to the artifacts that describes when and exactly where the item was found.

Exploratory Trenches
exploratory trenches at the site
trench running west toward the excavation for the housing development
measuring the depth to bedrock

This set of photographs shows the exploratory trenches being dug in order to try to find the foundation of the building. The task is very difficulty in this type of terrain since the bedrock is only a few inches below the surface. The photo just above shows two volunteers measuring the depth of the soil; it is about six inches. All of the foundation stones may have been removed from the site in the last eighty or ninety years, so we may never find out exactly where the building was. One can see how the site is surrounded by development.

Officer in Charge
The site supervisorsAll archaeological excavations need to have someone who is in charge. From our study of the French and Indian War we know that you look for the man with the gorget. Here we see Jim Sorensen wearing the insignia of rank. He is working with Vivian Eicke, President of the Mid-Potomac Chapter of the Archaeology Society of Maryland. We congratulate Jim and his team for the wonderful work in preserving and studying this important colonial site. The State of Maryland has been given three acres of land by the developer in order to make a park here commemorating and interpreting Dowden's Ordinary, an important location in the early history of this area and a stop on Gen. Braddock's march west.


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© Charles C. Hall 2005
updated: May 14, 2005
www.FortEdwards.org  -  www.BraddocksMarch.org