09 September 2007 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 3 comments

The other day, I received this e-mail from old friend Jim Morgan, who heads the battlefield guide program at the Ball’s Bluff battlefield in Leesburg, Virginia:

I’m delighted to announce that all the new, updated, and corrected historical markers are in.  The original 16 which, even if correct, were weathered and not looking very good, have been replaced with new ones, plus four completely new signs help tell the story even better. 

Two new interpretive trails have been cut as well, and three of the original signs moved to new locations on them.  These trails are somewhat more user friendly and on the new “Jenifer trail” the sign related to Lt Col Walter Jenifer, who commanded the small Confederate cavalry force, is closer to where his force actually was on the battlefield.

The four completely new signs are at the Baker stone, the Hatcher stone, the bluff overlook, and in a spot roughly in the middle of the field approximately where an 1886 photo of a 15th Mass reunion was taken.  It shows how the currently wooded area was actually an open meadow in 1886 and, by extension, in 1861.

There also is a privately-funded monument to the 8th Virginia now in.  Built on a square base of stone that closely resembles the stone in the cemetery wall, it has a slanted top on which sits a plaque listing the battles in which the 8th Virginia fought.  It is located close to the Eppa Hunton historical marker.

Because of the new sign and trail arrangement, the NVRPA is in the process of creating new trail maps and info brochures. These will be out before too much longer.

On Saturday, Sept 22, at 10:00, the official unveiling and dedication of these new interpretive aids will take place.  Beginning at 9:00 and continuing to 4:00, there will be a series of living history demonstrations by Union and Confederate reenactors.  The same types of activities will take place on Sunday from 10:00 to 4:00.

Y’all come.

Jim Morgan

This is fabulous news. Having had Jim’s personal tour of the battlefield, I can tell you that nobody knows more about this important but extremely early battle than does Jim, and that these new markers are a tribute to his dedication.

Take him up on his offer of a tour. I promise that you will not be disappointed.

Scridb filter


  1. Randy Sauls
    Mon 10th Sep 2007 at 9:34 am


    That is great news indeed. Ball’s Bluff is, despite the relative small number of troops involved, one of the most important early battles of the war in my opinion. The political consequences of the battle colored the thinking and subsequent actions of a fair share of Union officers that likely resulted in indecision and timidity in later battles. For that reason alone the battle deserves the attention it doesn’t always seem to get. I look forward to checking out the battlefield improvements. I took a group up on a tour there this past spring and the trails and interpretive signage were certainly in need of some help. The biggest improvement to me would be the clearing of the wooded portion of the center of the field. Maybe some day. Even without the improvements though, it has always been a wonderful battlefield to visit.


  2. Wade Sokolosky
    Tue 11th Sep 2007 at 8:20 am


    Thanks for the update. I stopped there a couple of weekends ago on my way up to South Mountain. Now I have a reason to go back.

    Always a pleasure to hear such good news in regards to battlefield preservation.


  3. Jim Morgan
    Wed 12th Sep 2007 at 9:02 am


    Let me point out first that I am not the person “who heads the battlefield guide program” at Ball’s Bluff. The group is headed by park manager George Tabb. He deserves a great deal of credit for bringing a level of energy that previously had been missing from the park’s management. I’ve been pushing for the new signs for years but it didn’t happen until George came on board about a year ago.

    Re Randy Sauls’ comment about clearing the center of the field, I can say only that we’re working on that. We have two or three volunteer work days each year and the park sometimes brings in work crews as well. We cannot return the field to its 1861 appearance but we are working on bush hogging so as to keep the underbrush down, on cutting away the smaller saplings and trees, and on removing deadfall. These efforts have resulted in a much more easily interpretable field with much better lines of sight (and we’ve taken a good bit of flak from local tree huggers even for doing that).

    It is a long-term work in progress. We are gradually working forward from the bluff toward the area of the parking lot. Eventually, we hope to establish good lines of sight throughout what was a 10-12 acre open field.

    Again, let me invite everyone in the area to come to the dedication on Saturday, Sep 22. Check out http://www.nvrpa.org for updates.


    Jim Morgan

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