“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Leesburg in Loudoun County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Ballís Bluff Masked Battery

...held to the bluff without room to retire.

Ball's Bluff Masked Battery Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 21, 2007
1. Ball's Bluff Masked Battery Marker
Inscription.  Two hundred yards to your right are the remains of a small earthwork that may have been part of a masked (concealed) battery which played an important role in the Battle of Ballís Bluff on October 21, 1861. The battery commanded the road from Edwards Ferry on the Potomac River to the town of Leesburg. Union Gen. Charles P. Stone, seeking to reconnoiter Confederate defenses near Leesburg, sent forces commanded by Col. Edward D. Baker across the Potomac about a mile north at Ballís Bluff. Baker, a U.S. Senator with little military experience, deployed his troops poorly and soon came under heavy attack by the Confederates, commanded by Col. Nathan P. “Shanks” Evans.

Whoever controlled the roadway behind you could control the flow of reinforcements to the battlefield from both Edwards Ferry and Confederate Fort Evans. As the battle began, Stone, then at Edwards Ferry, sent 35 cavalrymen of the 3rd New York Cavalry under Maj. John Mix to scout the road between the ferry and Leesburg. Having learned of the masked battery, Stone ordered Mix to reconnoiter the terrain around it to discover Confederate troop dispositions and to study
Detail of Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 21, 2007
2. Detail of Map
The map has superimposed modern highway numbers over the older, Civil War era, road network.
routes “for the passage of troops,” then withdrew. Just east of here, Mixís detachment took fire from elements of Col. William Barksdaleís 13th Mississippi Infantry. The Confederates held the road for the rest of the day, reinforced their troops facing Baker, and contributed to the defeat of the Union soldiers atop Ballís Bluff.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
Location. Marker has been reported missing. It was located near 39° 6.848′ N, 77° 31.6′ W. Marker was in Leesburg, Virginia, in Loudoun County. Marker was at the intersection of Edwardís Ferry Road and Battlefield Parkway North East, on the left when traveling east on Edwardís Ferry Road. At the entrance to the Edwardís Landing sub-division. Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Leesburg VA 20176, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this location, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Ballís Bluff Masked Battery (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Earthworks (approx. 0.6 miles away); Two-Chambered Granary (approx. 0.9 miles away); Well House (approx. 0.9 miles away);
Corner of Edwards Ferry and Battlefield Parkway image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 21, 2007
3. Corner of Edwards Ferry and Battlefield Parkway
The other earthwork section depicted on the marker is located behind the modern stone retaining wall. T-51, a state marker with the same title, can be seen just down Edwards Ferry Road on the left. In the winter of 1861-62, Confederate artillery units occupied winter encampments in what is today a wood lot behind the marker.
Carriage House (approx. 0.9 miles away); Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park (approx. 0.9 miles away); Ice House (approx. one mile away); 17th Mississippi Infantry (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leesburg.
More about this marker. Marker includes a newspaper drawing depicting the Federal retreat from Ballís Bluff with the caption, “U.S. soldiers attempt to swim the Potomac while fleeing Ballís Bluff.”

A portrait of Col. Edward D. Baker carries the caption, “the noted orator and Senator took the field and was undone by the challenges he faced. The sight of Bakerís body being carried from the battle demoralized the Union troops.”
Regarding Ballís Bluff Masked Battery. This marker is one of a set along the Balls Bluff Battlefield walking trail. See the Balls Bluff Virtual Tour by Markers link below for details on each stop.
Also see . . .
1. Biography of Col. Edward D. Baker. (Submitted on July 2, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Official Reports of the Battle. (Submitted on July 2, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
3. Balls Bluff Battlefield Virtual Tour by Marker. Over twenty markers detail the action at Balls Bluff and related sites. Please use the Click to map all markers shown on this page option at the bottom of the page to view a map of the marker locations. The hybrid view offers an excellent overlook of the park. (Submitted on November 11, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
Additional comments.
1. location
Entrance to Edward's Landing image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 22, 2007
4. Entrance to Edward's Landing
The earthwork remains of the masked battery are located behind the entrance sign. The heavy undergrowth obscures the area, and much of the works are on private land.

I drove by twice today and didn't see it? I saw the State Marker but not the Civil War Trails one.
    — Submitted July 10, 2020, by Mike McKeown of Baltimore, Maryland.

2. On Site check
I checked the marker today. It remains at the location. We do have plans, in the far future, to relocate the marker to a location closer to a safe parking place. I will update if that occurs.
    — Submitted July 12, 2020, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

Was the marker BEHIND the subdivision sign?

Behind the subdivision sign (photo 3, NE corner of intersection) is where the earthworks remains are. The marker was on the NW corner as shown in photo 2. —Ed. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted September 10, 2020, by Mike McKeown of Baltimore, Maryland.
Section of the Earthworks image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, October 15, 2007
5. Section of the Earthworks
Edwards Ferry Road cuts through a portion of the earthworks. One can glimpse a profile of the works on the north side of the road.
Ballís Bluff Masked Battery image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain
6. Ballís Bluff Masked Battery
The masked battery itself stands across Edwards Ferry Road, about 200 yards east of the marker location. The site is private property, but easily seen from the road.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 2, 2007. This page has been viewed 2,750 times since then and 16 times this year. Last updated on September 16, 2020, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 2, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   5. submitted on October 15, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   6. submitted on January 31, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.
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Feb. 25, 2021