More than 18 months after Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett ordered it off government property, officials have found a home for a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier: the docking site of a Potomac River ferry that is named for a Confederate general and has operated since before the Civil War.
County officials announced Tuesday that the county will move the statue to land owned by the proprietor of White’s Ferry, which shuttles vehicles between Poolesville and Leesburg.
The move, paid for by the county, is expected to be made in late spring or early summer.
Leggett ordered the statue removed from the lawn next to Rockville’s Red Brick Courthouse in the summer of 2015, when there was a national debate about symbols of the Confederacy.
The county executive, who was Montgomery’s first black elected official when he won a seat on the council in 1986, made the decision shortly after South Carolina removed the Rebel battle flag from its state capitol grounds.
“I fully understand that the statue reflects a piece of County history and that many County residents are proud of the sacrifices and bravery shown by their ancestors,” Leggett said in a statement Tuesday.
“Nonetheless, as originally enacted, it was not, and is not, part of the heritage of all of our residents. When originally constructed and placed on County property, it failed to reflect both sides of this unfortunate struggle in our history.”
The 103-year-old monument, which was donated to the county in 1913 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, depicts a young cavalry private, arms folded and saber hanging from his left hip.
It is 16 feet tall and, with its base, weighs 25,000 pounds, the county said. The inscription reads: “To Our Heroes of Montgomery County Maryland: That We Through Life May Not Forget to Love the Thin Gray Line.”
Since 2015, when vandals spray-painted it with graffiti, the statue has been encased in a wooden box. Officials said it will remain in the box until the move.
The question of where to relocate the statue sparked extended community discussion. A poll by Bethesda magazine found considerable support for keeping the private where he was, but with signage to provide historical context.
But Leggett stood fast, insisting that the statue did not belong in such a prominent location.
After several sites were considered, he approved a proposal to move the statue to the grounds of the Beall-Dawson house, a pre-Civil War home owned by the city of Rockville and operated as a museum by the Montgomery County Historical Society.
The relocation was rejected by the Rockville City Council in 2016.
R. Edwin Brown, whose family has owned White’s Ferry since the mid-1940s, could not be reached to comment Tuesday. In the statement issued by the county, he said: “I am happy to provide a place for the statue to be relocated. Those who wish to visit it will be able to do just that.”
White’s Ferry is the last of numerous ferries that plied the Potomac from the early 19th century. The boat is named the Gen. Jubal A. Early, for the Confederate Civil War general.
The trip from the Maryland side of the river to the Virginia side takes less than four minutes, and the ferry goes back and forth from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., 365 days a year, according to a recorded message on its phone line.
The one-way cost is $5 for cars, $3 for motorcycles, $2 for bicycles and $1 for pedestrians. Credit cards are not accepted.
Correction: Earlier versions of this article misstated the weight of the statue. The article has been corrected.