In the late 18th century, armies made the most use of the King's Highway. Merchants preferred to move goods such as tobacco over the Potomac River since land travel was difficult. The road became a main transportation route after the Revolutionary War.
In 1781, Generals George Washington and Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau traveled with cavalry and baggage wagons along the King's Highway to Yorktown, Virginia. They rested and gathered supplies at Mount Vernon, then rode south on September 12, 1781. Rochambeau's Quartermaster General wrote that after passing the Marumsco Creek "...you proceed through the woods, passing Blackburn House [Rippon Lodge] on the left." The Generals mapped their route. One month after they traversed Prince William County, they defeated British forces at Yorktown and won America's independence.
General George Washington ordered Colonel Harry Lee to improve the King's Highway in preparation for troop movement to Yorktown. In a letter dated September 17, 1781, Lee described work undertaken to accommodate the baggage train's passage through Prince William County. He wrote that 285 militia were
...on severe duty in repairing the roads which were impassable for the Baggage Wagons, Artillery, and mounted escorts...and in a few days I am in hopes will be completely accomplished which will open a direct way from Georgetown to Dumfries and shorten the distance many miles, besides being a much better road, and well supplied with forage, being a fine fertile Country well improved with Meadows.