U. S. CIVIL WAR
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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 Battle
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.
Interpretive Sign (17th Mississippi)   (B)
To read the text, click
Potomac River and Harrison's Island, taken from Ball's Bluff.   (C)
Many Union troops drowned, and their bodies washed ashore downstream in
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--
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
are said to be prisoners. Colonel Ward
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
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:/memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/alhome.shtml, accessed [March 27, 2003].
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
Location (not direction) of Photographs
Letters at Photographs refer to this map.
Civil War Photos