158 years ago today, a minor reconnaissance operation in the Leesburg area by Union troops escalated into a significant battle in the early months of the Civil War. The clash of 3,400 soldiers in the Battle of Balls Bluff resulted in a humiliating defeat for the Union and the death of U.S. Senator Edward Baker, a close friend of President Abraham Lincoln.
On Saturday, volunteers offered special activities for visitors to the battleground. Reenactors set up camps to depict the life of soldiers and explain the equipment they carried. The 8th GM Regiment Band also performed Civil War-era music. The highlight of the day was the firing of a reproduction cannon at the park. Reenactors fired six thundering rounds while explaining the duties of each member of the artillery unit.
The battleground is preserved in a 76-acre park managed by Nova Parks. The park, which includes a national cemetery and miles of hiking trails, is open daily. On weekends April through November, volunteers offer free guided tours.