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  • Ball's Bluff

    I believe today would be the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Ball's Bluff (Oct.21,1861)....talk about FUBAR! Wouldn't want to be wearing a Blue Uniform anywhere near Leesburg on that day. The bodies floated down the Potomac past D.C. for a couple of weeks after. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, it's been along day.

    Later,
    razorboy
    http://www.ebay.com/usr/froglevelzcool

    “The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom." - George S. Patton

  • #2
    Neither would I. Cross a river under fire then climb the opposite embankment directly into southern lead, and then flee back down the ridge and try to swim the river while still be shot at. talk about trial by fire.
    "We Will Stay Here, If We Must All Go to Hell Together"
    -Col. John R. Cooke, 27th NC

    Avatar: My Grandfather on the right. His twin on the left. Their older brother in the middle. In their Navy Blues

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    • #3
      You are indeed correct, razorboy... and welcome aboard, mate!

      October 21, 1861
      Originally posted by ACG History Today
      Confederate Victory at Ball's Bluff
      October 21, 1861 A.D. (aka: Harrison's Landing/Leesburg, Virginia)

      October 19, 1861, Federal Maj. General McClellan had ordered a reconnaissance in force to attempt to take Potomac crossings & Leesburg from Confederate Brig. General Evans. He sent forces under overall command of Federal Brig. General McCall to the area & this seems to have triggered the withdrawl of Evans from Leesburg to nearby defensive positions, even though McCalls forces did in fact withdraw their recon that night.

      Unsure of Confederate dispositions, McClellan sought to discern it by use of feint & bait. He thus ordered Brig. General Stone to deduce Confederate intentions by means at his disposal from the vicinity of Edwards Ferry. October 20, 1861, a federal patrol from the upstream crossing at Conrad's Ferry, under command of Col. (Senator) Baker, observed what it thought to be Confederate tents behind Ball's Bluff. 1/2 way between Edwards' Ferry & Conrad's Ferry, a rocky cliff rose above the Potomac bank overlooking an island of about 3 miles in length near center of the river known as Harrison Island. Believing opportunity was high, a raid on the camp was ordered for the next morning, Monday October 21, under command of Col. Devens. As things turn out, the "tents" were simple reflections in the moonlight upon the many trees in the field. This resulted in approximately 300 Union troops remaining on the south bank of the river as they await further orders.

      Stone had given Baker orders that allowed for him to cross the rest of his command to the Virginia side, or withdraw at his discretion. Rather than recon for more accurate information of enemy dispositions, Col. Baker instead chose to cross with his entire force. To do this, he acquired several boats from the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal to accomplish it.

      Meanwhile, Devens' troops, on the south bank, were increasingly facing elements of 17th Mississippi infantry in skirmishes throughout the morning. Using the additional boats Col. Baker had gathered, Union forces crossed throughout the day, Baker himself crossing around 1 pm, with ideas & visions of potential victory.

      Confederate Brig. General Evans, recognizing the Edwards' Ferry crossing for the likely feint it was, left a company as a screen against it & concentrated his greatest effort & troops against the Ball's Bluff crossing.

      Around 5pm that evening, Col. Baker was killed by a shot to the head, leaving his command foundering in disarray as dusk overcame the battlefield & sustained & increasing Confederate volleys wearing their ranks to the point of breaking & Union troops being driven over Balls Bluff & into the river. The many boats crossing back to Harrison Island became swamped, often capsizing.

      The Confederate actions of the day had turned a potential Union victory into defeat not only by their own proper reading & reaction to likely Union action, but also by Union lack of cautious reconnoiter, proper caution, & unreasoned misguidance. The ultimate expression of what occurred at the end of this Union failure in battle was a steady flow of dead bodies floating down the Potomac River & past Washington DC for several days thereafter. 500 Union prisoners captured on the Potomac later that night were spared drowning & the trade was captivity at Confederate hands, to include life, not death.

      Though nowhere near as large a rout in comparison to those yet in the future of the American Civil War, the ramifications were indeed great by reason of suspicion of conspiracy, & loss of a sitting US Senator. The result was establishment of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. All Union commanders would often find themselves occasionally hamstrung or indirectly effected by this commission throughout the remainder of the war by its existence.
      On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

      ACG History Today

      BoRG

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      • #4
        More glory for Shanks Evans, coming on the heels of his heroics at First Manassas. If he could have stayed sober, he might have made even a bigger name for himself in CSA history.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Airchallenged View Post
          Neither would I. Cross a river under fire then climb the opposite embankment directly into southern lead, and then flee back down the ridge and try to swim the river while still be shot at. talk about trial by fire.
          Amen to that. River crossings are hard any time, far more so under fire and with rookie troops.
          Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
          Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


          "Never pet a burning dog."

          RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
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          http://www.scv.org/
          http://www.scouting.org/

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          • #6
            BB is on my list to visit again. I stopped there once with the child bride as a spur of the moment thing while on a road trip to another event.

            Isn't the National Military Cemetary there the smallest one we have? If I remember right only 50+ men are interred there.

            Regards,
            Dennis
            If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

            Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by D1J1 View Post
              BB is on my list to visit again. I stopped there once with the child bride as a spur of the moment thing while on a road trip to another event.

              Isn't the National Military Cemetary there the smallest one we have? If I remember right only 50+ men are interred there.

              Regards,
              Dennis
              I might zip by there this weekend. I need a short drive -- I offered to drive the wife around on Saturday now that my Boy Scout thing this weekend is cancelled.
              Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
              Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


              "Never pet a burning dog."

              RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
              http://www.mormon.org
              http://www.sca.org
              http://www.scv.org/
              http://www.scouting.org/

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Janos View Post
                I might zip by there this weekend. I need a short drive -- I offered to drive the wife around on Saturday now that my Boy Scout thing this weekend is cancelled.
                Hey! I was in the Boy Scouts too.......at least until I got the heave for running a card game at summer camp! And here I thought there was a merit badge for economics.........liars!
                If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

                Comment


                • #9
                  D1J1,

                  You are correct about the National Cemetery at Ball's Bluff being the smallest.

                  The battlefield has just gotten quite a facelift. Completely new interpretive markers, written by my friend Jim Morgan, have been placed on the field, meaning that it is easier than ever to figure out what happened there. In addition, the area around the cemetery is undergoing a slow removal of trees in an effort to restore it to its appearance at the time of the battle, and there has been quite a bit of cleaning up and cutting of new trails there.

                  If you haven't been there in a while, it's well worth a visit to see the good things being done there.

                  Eric
                  "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

                  Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart

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                  • #10
                    OK, I drove up there over the weekend (I had a 4-day). I offered to take my wife for a drive* so we went to Great Falls National Park and then to Ball's Bluff.

                    The battlefield itself is not particularly impressive. There is a nice monument to the 8th Va Infantry and numerous signs scattered randomly throughout the woods. It's a state park, which means it's underfunded. Of course, it also means it's not crowded.

                    It's hard to imagine climbing that hill, and the morale impact of having it behind you (not to mention the river) must have been hard on the Federal troops.

                    It's a nice drive, for those of you who haven't been there.

                    *My wife's quote: "how is it when you offer to take me for a drive, we always end up walking around a battlefield?"
                    Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                    Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                    "Never pet a burning dog."

                    RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                    http://www.mormon.org
                    http://www.sca.org
                    http://www.scv.org/
                    http://www.scouting.org/

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                    • #11
                      Jeff,

                      It's not even a state park. It's a COUNTY park, which explains why the porta-potty in the parking lot is the closest thing to a visitor's center they have.

                      Eric
                      "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

                      Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EricWittenberg View Post
                        Jeff,

                        It's not even a state park. It's a COUNTY park, which explains why the porta-potty in the parking lot is the closest thing to a visitor's center they have.

                        Eric
                        It's owned and operated (as much as it is operated) by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, a state agency that runs a number of parks in the northern part of the Old Dominion, not just Loudon County. See http://www.leesburgva.gov/about/BallsBluff/.
                        Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                        Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                        "Never pet a burning dog."

                        RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                        http://www.mormon.org
                        http://www.sca.org
                        http://www.scv.org/
                        http://www.scouting.org/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I bet I wouldn't recognize it today. It was sort of a lovers' lane of sorts during the late 60s- early 70s. About all they had was the tiny National Cemetery plus a few CS casualties buried just outside the walls. And the bluffs, of course, which was all you needed to see to realize that this must have been one big federal fiasco.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Boaty View Post
                            I bet I wouldn't recognize it today. It was sort of a lovers' lane of sorts during the late 60s- early 70s. About all they had was the tiny National Cemetery plus a few CS casualties buried just outside the walls. And the bluffs, of course, which was all you needed to see to realize that this must have been one big federal fiasco.
                            Why didn't I know about it in high school then? It looks like it could still be used as a good lover's lane.
                            Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                            Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                            "Never pet a burning dog."

                            RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                            http://www.mormon.org
                            http://www.sca.org
                            http://www.scv.org/
                            http://www.scouting.org/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Probably could, except there's probably more chance of a visit by the law now than back then. Were you a NoVa HS grad? McLean HS class of '71

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