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York CWRT tours Ball’s Bluff with author Jim Morgan: Part 1

Ball’s Bluff was one of the earliest battles of the Civil War, occurring in October 1861. It left the North shocked at the unexpected defeat and mourning the death of U.S. Senator Edward Baker of Oregon, a close friend of President Abraham Lincoln. The battle was fought near Leesburg, Virginia, in rural Loudoun County.
On October 16, 2010, the York CWRT toured the battlefield with author and battlefield volunteer Jim Morgan, who provided a fascinating and high energy presentation that left everyone marveling at his grasp of the terrain, tactics, historical setting, and human interest stories. For almost four hours, starting at Leesburg’s Union Cemetery where many Confederate victims of Ball’s Bluff are buried, Jim enthralled the group with his vast knowledge of the battle.

Elijah V. White participated in the Battle of Ball’s Bluff and served as a courier and messenger. He was riding alongside Colonel Erasmus Burt of Mississippi when the latter was mortally wounded. White escaped injury. In the summer of 1863, he led a daring cavalry raid that chased Pennsylvania militia away from the important Hanover Junction railroad intersection. Less that a week earlier, White had also sacked Point-of-Rocks.

A native of Poolesville, Md., White was a leading businessman and farmer in the Leesburg, Va. area for several decades before and after the Civil War. He also pastored Pilgrim Primitive Baptist Church near Leesburg. Jim Morgan (left) explains White’s role in the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, which occurred near his farm.

Elijah White and his men never surrendered with the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. They managed to break through Union lines and ride back to their homes.

The bodies of 36 dead 17th Mississippi soldiers are buried in Leesburg’s Union Cemetery. Most died of disease, but a handful were victims of Ball’s Bluff.

The cemetery contains the graves of scores of Civil War veterans from Loudoun County, many of which fought in the 8th Virginia Infantry. The regiment was primarily raised in Leesburg and the surrounding farm country, with the remainder largely from the contiguous counties.

James A. Morgan III is the author of a fascinating book on the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. His passion for preserving and interpreting Ball’s Bluff is infectious and commendable.