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Trail in Ball's Bluff Battlefield and National Cemetery
Photograph courtesy of National Historic Landmarks Survey

Ball's Bluff Battlefield and National Cemetery are poignant reminders of a disastrous Union defeat in the first year of the Civil War when 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. On October 21, 1861, a Union force commanded by Col. Edward D. Baker, a senator from Oregon and a friend of President Lincoln, crossed the Potomac River and scaled Ball's Bluff on the Virginia shore, determined to capture Leesburg. Quickly surrounded by confederates, Baker was

Historic Depiction of Ball's Bluff Battlefield
Photograph courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources Archives
killed and his men stampeded over the bluff. Many drowned, and their bodies washed ashore downstream in Washington. More than 700 Union troops were captured. 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, which investigated the defeat. Ball's Bluff National Cemetery, one of the nation's smallest military cemeteries, was established in December 1865 as the burial place of 54 Union casualties of the battle.


Ball's Bluff Battlefield and National Cemetery is located off of Rte. 15 just south of Rte. 7 on Battlefield Parkway. It is a National Historic Landmark. The Park is open sunrise to sunset and free to visitors. Brochures at the kiosk provide a self-guided tour. Call 703-779-9372 for further information, or visit the website of the Veterans Administration - National Cemetery Administration

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