White's Ford was once owned by Lt. Col. Elijiah White, who called the area home beginning in 1856. Lt. Col. White is best known for his role as an aide and scout for Col. Eppa Hunton’s 8th Virginia Infantry during the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. White and his men eventually played a role in the Battle of Gettysburg, and were also a part of the Laurel Brigade.
During the Civil War, White's Ford on the Potomac River was employed by Confederate troops on three separate occasions. Lee's troops crossed here in their invasion of Maryland, September 4-7, 1862. General Jubal A. Early's II Corps, after an abortive attack on Washington's defenses, returned to Virginia using this ford on July 14, 1864.
Major General J.E.B. Stuart used this ford to cross into Virginia on October 12, 1862, following his raid to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Federal cavalry under Brigadier General Alfred Pleasonton, expecting Stuart to recross the Potomac near the mouth of the Monocacy, rushed his troops and those of Brigadier General George Stoneman to attempt to intercept him.
Stuart was guided by Captain B.S. White of Poolesville, Maryland, to White's Ford, which was defended by 200 men of the 99th Pennsylvania Infantry under Lieutenant Colonel E.R. Biles. They were bluffed out of their strong position by Colonel W.H.F. Lee. Stuart was shocked to learn that his rear guard, 400 men under Colonel Matthew C. Butler, was in danger of being left behind. Sending an aide, Captain William W. Blackford, to find Butler, Stuart's position became precarious as Stoneman and Pleasonton closed in.
Major John Pelham, who had taken a position on the towpath of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, near the present Lock #26, kept at bay the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Butler's troopers, hearing Pelham's one gun, knew the ford was still open and with drawn sabers - ready to cut their way out if necessary - raced toward the ford. They reached it with less than ten minutes to spare from certain disaster.
Stuart returned to Virginia with much booty, including 5,000 small arms and 1,200 horses, with the loss of only two men and two horses.