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The Battle at Ball’s Bluff was one of the earlier Confederate victories and the largest battle to take place in Loudoun County. Here, an ill-prepared Union force was forced to retreat over the bluff and across the Potomac. Many Union soldiers were killed and more than 500 captured. In addition, 161 were declared missing. Some of these missing actually floated downstream to Washington and Mount Vernon. The sight of deceased Union soldiers washing up along the Potomac caused a public outcry and was the first glimpse many citizens had of the war’s brutality.
The woods above Ball’s Bluff are now preserved in a 268-acre regional park. The park holds one of the smallest national cemeteries in the country, where an estimated 54 Union soldiers are buried, only one of whose identity is known. As you walk the nature trails through the park and along the Potomac, remembering the ghosts of the past, listen for the cries of pileated woodpeckers or Carolina wrens. Following the chattering of Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice may lead to a mixed flock holding more unusual species such as blue-headed vireo or brown creeper. Ball’s Bluff has something to offer in all seasons with the potential for a variety of migrating warblers and vireos in spring and dozens of butterflies and dragonflies all summer long.
Leaving the Rust Sanctuary, return east on Childrens Center Road SW to Catoctin Circle SW. Turn left (north) and go 0.2 miles to SR 7 Business/W. Market Street. Turn right (east) and go 0.8 miles to US 15 Business/N. King Street. Go left (north) 0.8 miles to Battlefield Parkway. Turn right (east) and go 1.0 mile to Balls Bluff Road. Turn left and continue 0.5 miles into the park.
Location & DirectionsView on Google Maps
Birds Recently Seen at Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park (as reported to eBird)
- Common Merganser
- Mourning Dove
- Ring-billed Gull
- Turkey Vulture
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Downy Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Pileated Woodpecker
- Northern Flicker
- Eastern Phoebe
Seasonal Bird Observations
- Hiking Trails