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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Leesburg in Loudoun County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

20th Massachusetts Infantry

 
 
20th Massachusetts Infantry Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, September 1, 2007
1. 20th Massachusetts Infantry Marker
Inscription.  Companies D and I of the 20th Massachusetts (the “Harvard Regiment”) followed the 15th Massachusetts across the Potomac with orders to serve as a rear guard and cover the withdrawal of the 15th Massachusetts following what was hoped would be a successful raid. Those two companies, led by regimental commander Colonel William R. Lee, deployed along the bluff here and waited. They spent much of the day in the area immediately beyond this sign.

While waiting, Colonel Lee sent out scouting parties upriver and downriver to secure his flanks. The upriver party stumbled into a small group of pickets from Co. K, 17th Mississippi, and a few shots were exchanged. The Mississippians withdrew and alerted Colonel Evans to the presence of Union troops at Ball’s Bluff. Unfortunately for the Federals, no one from the 20th Massachusetts went forward to inform their comrades in the 15th Massachusetts that contact had been made with the enemy.

Around mid-afternoon, the 20th became involved in the main fighting, an action later described by Lieut. Henry L. Abbott as a fight “made up of charges” as individual companies would advance,
20th Massachusetts Infantry Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, March 6, 2021
2. 20th Massachusetts Infantry Marker
The marker has weathered but remains legible.
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fire, and fall back. Later, Lieut. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. received the first of his three Civil War wounds here and was evacuated from the field. During the rout of the Federal troops, Colonel Lee and Major Paul J. Revere (grandson of the Revolutionary War hero) were captured along with many other soldiers. Capt. William F. Bartlett led a mixed group of some 80 men upriver where they found a small skiff and managed to cross to safety.
 
Erected by Ball’s Bluff Regional Park/Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the NOVA Parks series list.
 
Location. 39° 7.939′ N, 77° 31.631′ W. Marker is in Leesburg, Virginia, in Loudoun County. Marker can be reached from Ball’s Bluff Road, on the left when traveling east. Located at trail stop 6, inside Ball’s Bluff Regional Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Leesburg VA 20175, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. M1841 12 Pound Mountain Howitzer (within shouting distance of this marker); 13 Pounder "James Rifle" (within shouting distance of this marker); Union Artillery (within shouting distance of this marker); A National Cemetery System (within shouting distance
20th Massachusetts Infantry Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, March 6, 2021
3. 20th Massachusetts Infantry Marker
of this marker); United States National Military Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker); Ball's Bluff National Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker); Edward D. Baker (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Ball's Bluff National Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leesburg.
 
More about this marker. The marker displays a portrait of Henry Livermore Abbott.
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has replaced the linked marker.
 
Also see . . .
1. Brief Summary of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. (Submitted on August 31, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Staff Ride Guide. Produced by the Center of Military History for Army Officer Professional Development. (Submitted on August 31, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

3. The Harvard Regiment. The 20th Massachusetts carried the nickname “Harvard Regiment” mainly due to the large number of Harvard alumni serving in the unit. Famed in poetry and story, the 20th served in many of the wars great battles. (Submitted on August 31, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

4. Balls Bluff Battlefield Virtual Tour by Marker
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. 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.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 6, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 31, 2007. This page has been viewed 1,611 times since then and 20 times this year. Last updated on October 4, 2020, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1. submitted on September 1, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2, 3. submitted on March 6, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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May. 19, 2022