NOVA Parks has always been excited to help preserve the history of Northern Virginia. In doing so, the Park Authority has become stewards of many historic and cultural sites in the region. Being able to use these assets as a teaching tool for park visitors is a great joy to NOVA Parks, because within the history that is passed on at these places is an even greater story - the story of America.
One such regional park in the town of Leesburg, VA, is Ball’s Bluff, the site of one of the earliest Civil War engagements in the Northern Virginia region. Pictured above is the dedication of the park’s signage in the 1980s.
The Battle of Ball’s Bluff was the result of poor communications and inexperienced leadership. A sitting U.S. Senator and good friend of Abraham Lincoln, Edward Baker, was killed in action. Future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was a soldier in this battle. The Union General Charles Stone was actually imprisoned without charges for losing the battle. That created a reluctance to take risks on the Union side, which likely prolonged the entire war.
The historic regional park offers living history events that let visitors have a truly unique visual learning experience. For the 150th anniversary in 2011, a full-scale battle reenactment was held. In 2015, the battlefield was expanded through a land acquisition that involved both NOVA Parks and the American Battlefield Trust.
Within the Ball's Bluff site there is a cemetery, which is the third smallest national cemetery in the United States, (pictured below), and which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1984. Other major features of the park include interpretive trails, unique signage, and an amazing view of the bluff itself that overlooks the Potomac River.
Being able to not only tell the stories of Northern Virginia, but also the story of America, is something that NOVA Parks takes the utmost pride in and will continue to do with its positive efforts of regional preservation.