The What Bridge?

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If you’re like GM, you’ve always assumed the bridge that P St. travels over as it travels over Rock Creek was simply called “P St. Bridge”. You’d be forgiven in thinking this primarily because A) that’s what it is and B) there’s an old copper sign along the bridge that calls it that.

Well apparently the bridge has a fancier name too: Lauzun’s Legion Bridge. This name was generated by the Dupont ANC way back in 2006. The name was chosen to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the Revolutionary War. Lauzun’s Legion was, according to Wikipedia:

Lauzun’s Legion was a specially constructed unit that was formed in March 1780 from various detachments of French and many foreign volunteers in the French army and navy. Most of the Legion was composed of units from the Volontaires Etrangers de la Marine (Foreign Marine Volunteers) created in September 1778 by the naval minister Gabriel de Sartine, and ‘propriétaire’ status had been granted to Armand Louis de Gontaut, due de Lauzun. The corps comprised three legions, each consisting of four companies of grenadiers, chasseurs and fusiliers, plus artillery, cavalry and pioneer detachments. As with other 18th century “legions” the intention was to create a miniature army which could campaign as a single entity. As indicated by the title, the corps was recruited primarily from German, Polish and Irish mercenaries.

As a proud Polish-American, GM is proud to see his people celebrated, but he has to ask whether this was the best choice. There are too many buildings, squares, streets, etc., throughout DC named after people who have zero connection with DC and the history of its actual residents. Surely a better locally focused name could have been chosen? Perhaps Herring Hill Bridge?

Anyway, the only reason GM noticed this renaming is that despite being designated in 2006, it was only this year that a sign went up.



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5 responses to “The What Bridge?

  1. Neale, Thomas

    Dear GM:

    There’s another reason why “Lauzun’s Legion Bridge” is an appropriate name for the P Street span. Count Rochambeau and his French army, of which Lauzun’s Legion was an important component, camped in what is now Washington on their march south to Yorktown and destiny. According to historians, the army broke its march for at least a day, setting up their camp on a rise above the east bank of Rock Creek, roughly the area around the Cosmos Club and to the north and west. on the east bank. Can’t remember the date, but most likely it would have been in July or August, 1781. Can’t reply on your “Comments” because I won’t do social media.


    Thomas Neale

  2. Neale, Thomas

    Dear GM:

    I take it all back, or at least part of it. A cursory glance at Wikipedia reveals that Lauzun’s Legion marched as far south as Head of Elk, and was then transported by water to Alexandria. The legion then resumed its march to Yorktown.


  3. What a sadly squandered opportunity to promote local history. While a simple “P Street Bridge” should have sufficed, “Paper Mill Bridge” would have acknowledged the earlier named roadway that ran under the bridge at creek grade as well as the structure that occupied that general area.

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