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Ball's Bluff Area Ball's Bluff Overlook
Ball's Bluff Area
Battlefield Map (below) outlined in red.
Ball's Bluff Overlook   (A)

  October 21, 1861
Estimated Casualties: 1,070 total (US 921; CS 149)

Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan "Shanks" Evans stopped a badly coordinated attempt by Union forces under Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone to cross the Potomac at Harrison's Island and capture Leesburg. A timely Confederate counterattack drove the Federals over the bluff and into the river. More than 700 Federals were captured. Col. Edward D. Baker, a senator from Oregon and a friend of President Lincoln, was killed. This Union rout had severe political ramifications in Washington and led to the establishment of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. (Text Source: U.S. Gov't, National Park Service).

Ball's Bluff 
Ball's Bluff Battle

Ball's Bluff 
Cliff at Ball's Bluff   (A)

Union troops crossed the Potomac River and scaled Ball's Bluff in an attempt to capture Leesburg, Virginia. Quickly surrounded by confederates, Col. Edward D. Baker was killed and his men stampeded over the bluff.

17th Mississippi Sign
Interpretive Sign (17th Mississippi)   (B)
To read the text, click Here.

Potomac River and Harrison's Island, taken from Ball's Bluff.   (C)

Many Union troops drowned, and their bodies washed ashore downstream in Washington.

Stone's Letter   175
Charles P. Stone to Abraham Lincoln, October 21, 1861
(Telegram regarding battle at Ball's Bluff).

Oct 21 1861.

Edwards Ferry 10 35

It is impossible to give full particulars of what is yet inexplicable to me-- Our troops under Col Baker were reported in good condition & position within 15 minutes of the death of Col B--
1 We have still possession of Harrisons Island and some fifteen hundred men on the Va side opposite Edwards Ferry-- Six hundred more going over-- We have lost several field officers killed & wounded & Colonels Lee 2 & Cogswell, 3 are said to be prisoners. Colonel Ward 4 wounded-- The enemy has not thus far attempted any attack of our positions we have lost 2 mountain howitzers & one Rifled James Gun-- The enemy was undoubtedly reinforced in the evening but how much it is impossible to say The report of killed made by me half an hour before the disaster was 30-- Our killed & wounded may reach 200-- Number of prisoners unknown--

[Note 1 Edward D. Baker was killed at the battle of Ball's Bluff on October 21, 1861. General Charles P. Stone was commander of the Union forces in this engagement.]

[Note 2 William R. Lee was colonel of the 20th Massachusetts.]

[Note 3 Milton Cogswell was colonel of the 42nd New York.]

[Note 4 George R. Ward was colonel of the 15th Massachusetts.]

C P Stone

Brig Genl

Charles P. Stone to Abraham Lincoln, October 21, 1861 (Telegram regarding battle at Ball's Bluff). Transcribed and annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. Available at Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division (Washington, D.C.: American Memory Project, [2000-02]), http:/, accessed [March 27, 2003].

Ball's Bluff Cemetery
Ball's Bluff Cemetery   (D)

The Ball's Bluff National Cemetery, the nation's smallest military cemetery, was established in December 1865 as the burial place of 54 Union casualties of the battle.

Photograph Locations
Location (not direction) of Photographs
Letters at Photographs refer to this map.


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