The Civil War, Day by Day

The Angle (detail)

The Battle of Ball’s Bluff

Under orders from General George McClellan, Stone staged a demonstration on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, and sent other Northern regiments marching upriver on the Virginia side to threaten a Confederate flank. Stone ill-advisedly assigned the mission to Colonel Edward Baker, a former senator who lacked serious battle experience. When Baker encountered a Confederate brigade at the top of Ball’s Bluff, he stationed his men in poorly chosen positions for the pending battle. Baker was killed during the fighting and his troops soon retreated in disorder down the bank and into the river where some of those who escaped bullets were drowned.

This humiliating defeat caused Lincoln to shed tears of grief for Baker’s death and provoked among Republicans an angry search for a scapegoat. In December, Congress formed the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War for the purpose of investigating the Union defeats at Ball’s Bluff and Bull Run. Without a shred of evidence, the Committee accused Stone of treason and imprisoned him for six months, while McClellan - the man who had issued the orders that ruined Stone’s career - remained in command.

Mort Künstler painted this dramatic battle scene, a detail from The Angle, which typifies the fighting at Ball’s Bluff.

November's Archived Features:

Sunday November 1, 2020
Monday November 2, 2020
Tuesday November 3, 2020
Wednesday November 4, 2020
Thursday November 5, 2020
Friday November 6, 2020
Saturday November 7, 2020
Sunday November 8, 2020
Monday November 9, 2020
Tuesday November 10, 2020
Wednesday November 11, 2020
Thursday November 12, 2020
Friday November 13, 2020
Saturday November 14, 2020
Sunday November 15, 2020
Monday November 16, 2020
Tuesday November 17, 2020
Wednesday November 18, 2020
Thursday November 19, 2020
Friday November 20, 2020
Saturday November 21, 2020
Sunday November 22, 2020
Monday November 23, 2020



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.