Ball's Bluff, VA

Battle of Ball's Bluff Painting

[Death of Col Edward D. Baker: At the Battle of Balls Bluff near Leesburg Va.
Oct. 21st 1861 by Currier & Ives (1861?)- Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Date(s): October 21, 1861

Location: Please click on link below for map.

Balls Bluff Regional Park (park), Leesburg, Virginia, United States

Campaign(s): McClellan’s Operations in Northern Virginia [October-December 1861]

Battles in Campaign:


  • Major General George B. McClellan had recently been promoted to general-in-chief of all Union armies.

  • 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.

  • McClellan chose to launch a reconnaissance in force in hopes of seizing Potomac River crossing sites and, ultimately, Leesburg, Virginia.

  • On October 19, 1861, McClellan ordered Brigadier General George A. McCall to march his division to Dranesville, Virginia, fourteen miles southeast of Leesburg, hoping to intimidate Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan "Shanks" Evans into abandoning Leesburg.

  • Evans moved out of the city and  took 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 Pomeroy Stone to stage a demonstration at Edwards' Ferry to distract the Confederates and glean positions and intentions.


  • Union: Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone and Col. Edward Baker

  • Confederate: Brig. Gen. Nathan G. Evans

Principal Forces:

  • Union: 2,000

  • Confederate: 1,600


  • 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 Union troops over the bluff and into the river.

  • More than 700 Union troops were captured and Col. Edward D. Baker (a U.S. Senator) 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.

Photo Gallery1

Ball's Bluff Regional Park

A Divided America, A Divided Loudoun County

The Battle of Ball's Bluff in Perspective

Aftermath of Ball's Bluff

Additional Area Civil War Sites

Battle of Ball's Bluff - October 21, 1861

Ball's Bluff Regional Park

The Battle of Ball's Bluff

8th Virginia Infantry

Battlefield Historic Restoration Project

Thomas Clinton Lovett Hatcher

The South: Confederate Leaders at Ball's Bluff

The North: Union Leaders at Ball's Bluff

Battle of Ball's Bluff - October 21, 1861

Ball's Bluff National Cemetery

The Bivouac of the Dead

Ball's Bluff National Cemetery Gate

Flag in the National Cemetery

Ball's Bluff Overlook

View from the Overlook

View from the Overlook

Union Artillery

15th Massachusetts Infantry


Classification2: B


  • Union: 921

  • Confederate: 149

Results: Confederate Victory

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Virginia Tourism

Recommended Resources:

1 Please click on the image to enlarge it. You may copy the images if you include the following note and link with each image: "Courtesy of"

2 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

3 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.


Revised 07/18/2013