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Encyclopedia > Battle of Ball's Bluff
Battle of Ball's Bluff

Death of Col. Edward D. Baker at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, by Currier and Ives.
Conflict: American Civil War
Date: October 21, 1861
Location: Loudoun County, Virginia
Outcome: Confederate victory
Combatants
United States of America Confederate States of America
Commanders
Charles P. Stone
Edward D. Baker
Nathan G. Evans
Strength
2,000 1,600
Casualties
921 149
McClellan's Operations in Northern Virginia
Ball's BluffDranesville

The Battle of Ball's Bluff, also known as the Battle of Harrison’s Landing or the Battle of Leesburg, took place on October 21, 1861, in Loudoun County, Virginia, as part of Major General George B. McClellan's operations in northern Virginia during the American Civil War. It was the second largest battle of the Eastern Theater in 1861. The American Civil War (1861–1865) was fought in North America between the United States of America, called the Union and the Confederate States of America, a coalition of eleven southern states that declared their independence and claimed the right of secession from the Union. ... October 21 is the 294th day of the year (295th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 71 days remaining. ... 1861 is a common year starting on Tuesday. ... Loudoun County, Virginia is part of the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. ... Motto: Deo Vindice (Latin: With God As Our Vindicator) Anthem: God Save the South (unofficial) Dixie (popular) Capital Montgomery, Alabama February 4, 1861–May 29, 1861 Richmond, Virginia May 29, 1861–April 9, 1865 Danville, Virginia April 3–April 10, 1865 Largest city New Orleans February 4, 1861–May 1... Motto: Deo Vindice (Latin: With God As Our Vindicator) Anthem: God Save the South (unofficial) Dixie (popular) Capital Montgomery, Alabama February 4, 1861–May 29, 1861 Richmond, Virginia May 29, 1861–April 9, 1865 Danville, Virginia April 3–April 10, 1865 Largest city New Orleans February 4, 1861–May 1... Charles P. Stone Charles Pomeroy Stone (September 30, 1824 _ January 24, 1887) was an officer in the U.S. Army who became a Brigadier General during the American Civil War. ... Edward Dickinson Baker (February 24, 1811 – October 21, 1861) was a U.S. Representative from Illinois, a Senator from Oregon, a Colonel during the American Civil War, and a close friend of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. ... Nathan George Shanks Evans (February 3, 1824 - November 23, 1868) was a U.S. Lieutenant in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment who became a Brigadier General for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. ... Battle of Dranesville Conflict American Civil War Date December 20, 1861 Place Fairfax County, Virginia Result Union victory The Battle of Dranesville took place on December 20, 1861 in Fairfax County, Virginia as part of McClellans operations in northern Virginia during the American Civil War. ... October 21 is the 294th day of the year (295th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 71 days remaining. ... 1861 is a common year starting on Tuesday. ... Loudoun County, Virginia is part of the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. ... Insignia of a United States Air Force Major General German Generalmajor Insignia Major General is a military rank used in many countries. ... George McClellan George Brinton McClellan (December 3, 1826 – October 29, 1885) was a major general (and briefly the general-in-chief of all the Union armies) during the American Civil War. ... The American Civil War (1861–1865) was fought in North America between the United States of America, called the Union and the Confederate States of America, a coalition of eleven southern states that declared their independence and claimed the right of secession from the Union. ...


McClellan had recently been promoted to general-in-chief of all Union armies and, now, three months after the First Battle of Bull Run and after some considerable organizational activities and defensive preparations, he may have felt pressure from the Lincoln administration to take offensive military action. He chose to launch a reconnaissance in force in hopes of seizing Potomac River crossing sites and, ultimately, Leesburg, Virginia. The 21st Michigan Infantry, a company of Shermans veterans. ... Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders Irvin McDowell Joseph E. Johnston P.G.T. Beauregard Strength 28,450 32,230 Casualties 460 killed, 1,124 wounded, 1,312 captured/missing 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, 13 captured/missing The First Battle of Bull Run, known as... Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865), sometimes called Abe Lincoln and nicknamed Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, and the Great Emancipator, was the 16th President of the United States (1861 to 1865), and the first president from the Republican Party. ... The Potomac River at Great Falls, MD from Olmsted Island, water relatively low The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States (USA). ... Leesburg is a town located in Loudoun County, Virginia, United States of America. ...


On October 19, 1861, McClellan ordered Brigadier General George A. McCall to march his division to Dranesville, Virginia, fourteen miles south of Leesburg, hoping to intimidate Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan "Shanks" Evans into abandoning Leesburg. Evans did move out of the city, taking up a defensive position on the Leesburg Turnpike. McCall's orders were to leave the area that night. Meanwhile, McClellan was uncertain Evans had actually evacuated, and ordered Brigadier General Charles P. Stone to stage a demonstration at Edwards' Ferry to distract the Confederates and glean positions and intentions. Stone personally supervised the crossing at Edwards' Ferry; he also decided on a second demonstration two miles upriver, and he delegated that task to one of his brigade commanders Colonel Edward D. Baker. Baker, a sitting U.S. Senator and close personal friend of Lincoln's, had recently been offered a commission as major general of volunteers, and was in the process of deciding whether to leave his Senate seat to accept. October 19 is the 292nd day of the year (293rd in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1861 is a common year starting on Tuesday. ... A Brigadier General, or one-star general, is the lowest rank of general officer in the United States and some other countries, ranking just above Colonel and just below Major General. ... George A. McCall (March 16, 1802 - February 25, 1868) was a regular army officer in the U.S. Army who became a brigadier general and prisoner of war during the American Civil War. ... For other meanings of confederate and confederacy, see confederacy (disambiguation) National Motto Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God our Vindicator) Official language English de facto nationwide Various European and Native American languages regionally Capital Montgomery, Alabama February 4, 1861–May 29, 1861 Richmond, Virginia May 29, 1861–April 9, 1865 Largest... A Brigadier General, or one-star general, is the lowest rank of general officer in the United States and some other countries, ranking just above Colonel and just below Major General. ... Nathan George Shanks Evans (February 3, 1824 - November 23, 1868) was a U.S. Lieutenant in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment who became a Brigadier General for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. ... A Brigadier General, or one-star general, is the lowest rank of general officer in the United States and some other countries, ranking just above Colonel and just below Major General. ... Charles P. Stone Charles Pomeroy Stone (September 30, 1824 _ January 24, 1887) was an officer in the U.S. Army who became a Brigadier General during the American Civil War. ... Colonel is a military rank of a commissioned officer, with the corresponding ranks existing in nearly every country in the world. ... Edward Dickinson Baker (February 24, 1811 – October 21, 1861) was a U.S. Representative from Illinois, a Senator from Oregon, a Colonel during the American Civil War, and a close friend of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. ... The United States Senate is the upper house of the U.S. Congress, smaller than the United States House of Representatives. ... Insignia of a United States Air Force Major General German Generalmajor Insignia Major General is a military rank used in many countries. ... For the noun, see volunteer Volunteers is a 1969 album by American psychedelic rock band, Jefferson Airplane. ...


On the night of October 20, 1861, a patrol from the upstream crossing spotted what appeared to be rows of Confederate tents in the fields behind Ball's Bluff. The densely wooded cliff was halfway between Edwards' Ferry and Conrad's Ferry (now known as White's Ferry), rose a rocky 100 feet above the Potomac bank, and overlooked Harrison Island, a narrow island about three miles in length in the center of the narrow river. Sensing opportunity, Stone ordered a detachment of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry under Colonel Charles Devens to raid the camp early the next morning, Monday October 21. After sending a messenger to Stone with news the "tents" were merely moonlit reflections from rows of trees, Devens and his green battalion of 300 Union soldiers stayed on the southern bank of the river awaiting further orders. October 20 is the 293rd day of the year (294th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 72 days remaining. ... 1861 is a common year starting on Tuesday. ... Some Confederate soldiers The Confederate States Army (CSA) was formed in February, 1861, to defend the Confederate States of America, which had itself been formed that same year when seven southern states seceded from the United States (with four more to follow). ... Official language(s) English Capital Boston Largest city Boston Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 44th 10,555 mi²; 27,360 km² 183 mi; 295 km 113 mi; 182 km 13. ... Charles Devens (April 4, 1820–January 7, 1891) was an American lawyer, jurist and statesman. ... October 21 is the 294th day of the year (295th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 71 days remaining. ...


Stone's written instructions to Baker ordered that additional forces under Baker's command be crossed to the Virginia side, or completely withdrawn at Baker's discretion, depending on the situation. Instead of crossing to the bluff personally to evaluate his tactical options, Colonel Baker immediately chose to cross his entire force, and for some hours personally supervised the lifting of boats from the nearby Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to assist his river crossing. Canal at Swains Lock The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, also known as the C&O Canal, operated from 1850 until 1924 parallel to the Potomac River in Maryland from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, DC. The total length of the canal is about 184. ...


Devens's command had been facing increasingly stiff resistance all morning from elements of the 17th Mississippi infantry. Additional Union battalions crossed all day using the makeshift flotilla made available. Baker himself crossed after 1:00 p.m., and saw his chances for a glorious victory. Evans continued to deploy additional troops against the Ball's Bluff crossing, while screening the Edwards' Ferry crossing with a single company. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


Colonel Baker was killed by gunfire about 5:00 p.m., and as darkness fell Union command eventually broke down under sustained and enthusiastic Confederate volleys. Many of the Union soldiers were driven over the steep bluff and into the river. Boats attempting to cross back to Harrison Island were soon swamped and capsized; a disturbing number of the casualties resulted from drowning and dead bodies floated as far downriver as Washington in the days following the battle. More than 500 Union prisoners were captured on the banks of the Potomac later that night. Nickname: the District Motto: Justitia Omnibus (Justice for All) Official website: http://www. ...


This Union rout was relatively minor in comparison to the battles to come in the war, but it had an enormous impact. Due to the loss of a sitting senator, it had severe political ramifications in Washington. General Stone was treated as the scapegoat for the defeat, but members of Congress suspected that there was a conspiracy afoot to betray the Union. The outcry led directly to the establishment of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, which would bedevil Union officers (particularly those who were Democrats) for the remainder of the war and contribute to nasty political infighting among the generals in the high command. The scapegoat was a goat that was driven off into the wilderness as part of the ceremonies of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in Judaism during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem. ... The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States of America. ... The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War was a United States Congressional investigating committee created to handle issues surrounding the American Civil War. ... The Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties in the United States. ...


External links

  • National Park Service battle description
  • U.S. Army Online Bookshelp: Battle of Ball's Bluff Guide

 
 

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