View of wooden markers at Dayton National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers cemetery, now Dayton National Cemetery; Entrance to Alexandria (VA) National Cemetery, circa 1865; Rostrum, circa 1890, Loudon Park National Cemetery
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Ball's Bluff National Cemetery

Leesburg, Virginia

Balls Bluff National Cemetery
Ball's Bluff National Cemetery
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs,
National Cemetery Administration, History Program

Located in Loudoun County, Virginia, approximately two miles northeast of Leesburg, is Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery, which contains the remains of 54 Union soldiers who died in the nearby Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861.  This Union defeat early in the war spurred major political changes in Washington, D.C., and launched one of Congress’ first major investigative inquiries.  Today the cemetery is one of the smallest Civil War-era national cemeteries.

On October 21, 1861, Confederate troops, led by Brigadier General Nathan “Shanks” Evans repulsed a force of 2,000 Union soldiers, led by Brigadier General Charles Stone.  Stone’s troops were trying to cross the Potomac River at Harrison’s Island.  From here, the Union hoped to capture Leesburg, but Evans’ men were able to defeat them handily.  The Union suffered more than 900 casualties, and Evans’ troops captured another 700 as prisoners of war.  In response, the United States formed the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, an investigative commission that greatly influenced opinions about the war in Washington and by the public.

In December 1865, the Federal Government established Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery to provide a proper burial ground for the Union soldiers killed during the battle.  In all, 54 men lie here, however, all but one are buried as unknowns. The lone exception is James Allen, Company H, 15th Massachusetts Infantry.  The remains are interred in 25 graves, each marked with an upright marble headstone, arranged in a three-quarter circle around a central flagpole.  The square cemetery, which covers just over 2,000 square feet, is enclosed on all sides by a stone wall.  The only entrance to the cemetery is a small wrought-iron pedestrian gate flanked by stone columns in the center of the south wall.  Dense tree growth surrounds the cemetery to the north, east, and south, with a 0.3 mile long access road located to the west.  While much of Loudoun County has undergone tremendous growth in recent decades, the area immediately surrounding the national cemetery retains much of its historic character, offering a glimpse into what Ball’s Bluff looked like during the 1861 battle.

Located outside of the cemetery walls are two monuments dedicated to men who died at the Battle of Ball's Bluff who are buried elsewhere.  The Thomas Clinton Lovett Hatcher Memorial honors a Confederate soldier from Augusta County, Virginia, who served in the 8th Virginia Regiment.  Hatcher is buried in Ketoctin Baptist Church Cemetery in Purcellville, Virginia.  The spot where Union General Edward D. Baker supposedly fell during the battle is marked with an upright marble marker, erected in the 1890s.  Baker is buried in San Francisco National Cemetery.
Plan your visit

Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery is located on Ball’s Bluff Road NE, 0.8 miles northeast of the intersection of Battlefield Parkway and Ball’s Bluff Road NE in Leesburg, VA.  Ball’s Bluff Battlefield and National Cemetery is designated as a National Historic Landmark; click here for the National Historic Landmark file: text and photographs.  The cemetery is open for visitation daily from dawn to dusk.  No cemetery staff is present onsite.  The administrative office is located at Culpeper National Cemetery, and the office is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm, and is closed on all Federal holidays except for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  For more information, please contact the cemetery office at 540-825-0027, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website.  While visiting, please be mindful that our national cemeteries are hallowed ground.  Be respectful to all of our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families.  Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site.

Ball's Bluff National Cemetery is a part of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. Ball’s Bluff Battlefield and National Cemetery are both featured in the National Park Service's Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Journey Through Hallowed Ground Travel Itinerary, which includes other registered historic places to visit along Route 15 in the Virginia Piedmont. 

Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery was photographed to the standards of the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscape Survey

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