Revisiting the Battle of Ball's Bluff in Historic Leesburg
In northern Virginia, public parks don’t just protect cardinals and dogwoods—they also preserve Civil War history. A couple miles outside Leesburg, the Battle of Ball’s Bluff saw the defeat of Union troops to the Confederates—a considerable loss that resulted in the death of brigade commander Baker, a close friend of President Lincoln’s. Union troops were pushed down the steep, 300-foot cliffs to the banks of the Potomac River, resulting in hundreds of deaths, injuries, captures, and attempts to swim to nearby Harrison Island. One survivor though, first lieutenant Oliver Wendell Holmes, would go on to become a notable Supreme Court justice. Today, seven miles of trails offer interpretive markers and river overlooks, and the half-acre cemetery holds 54 Union graves—with all but one soldier unknown.