National Cemetery Administration
Ball's Bluff National Cemetery
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Visitation Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk.
This cemetery is closed to new interments.
Cemetery is located two miles northeast of Leesburg. From Washington Dulles International Airport, proceed north to Virginia Highway 7, then west to U.S. Highway 15. Turn north (right) and travel approximately two miles to 400 Battlefield Parkway. Go to Balls Bluff Road and turn left to cemetery on gravel road.
Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
The Culpeper National Cemetery manages this cemetery. You can contact the staff at:
Culpeper National Cemetery
305 U.S. Avenue
Culpeper, VA 22701
Cemetery policies are conspicuously posted and readily visible to the public.
Floral arrangements accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed grave. Natural cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time of the year. They will be removed when they become unsightly or when it becomes necessary to facilitate cemetery operations such as mowing.
Artificial flowers and potted plants will be permitted on graves during periods when their presence will not interfere with grounds maintenance. As a general rule, artificial flowers and potted plants will be allowed on graves for a period extending 10 days before through 10 days after Easter Sunday and Memorial Day.
Christmas wreaths, grave blankets and other seasonal adornments may be placed on graves from Dec. 1 through Jan. 20. They may not be secured to headstones or markers.
Permanent plantings, statues, vigil lights, breakable objects and similar items are not permitted on the graves. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not permit adornments that are considered offensive, inconsistent with the dignity of the cemetery or considered hazardous to cemetery personnel. For example, items incorporating beads or wires may become entangled in mowers or other equipment and cause injury.
Permanent items removed from graves will be placed in an inconspicuous holding area for one month prior to disposal. Decorative items removed from graves remain the property of the donor but are under the custodianship of the cemetery. If not retrieved by the donor, they are then governed by the rules for disposal of federal property.
VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors. Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.
The diminutive Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery is located approximately two miles from the Town of Leesburg, in Loudoun County, Va. Land for the half-acre cemetery was acquired through donation in 1865, and the government received a quitclaim deed from the original owner’s heirs in 1904. Because of its location and size, the cemetery has never required a superintendent.
Within the cemetery, which is enclosed by a brick wall, lie the remains of 54 soldiers who died during the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. The remains are interred in 25 graves, and the only known interment is James Allen of Co. H, 15th Massachusetts Infantry.
The Battle of Ball’s Bluff began the morning of Oct. 21, 1861, with Union and Confederate forces evenly matched. The Confederates were more experienced in battlefield strategy, however. As the conflict continued, Southern troops forced the Union army back toward the bluff. The decisive blow came in the afternoon when Col. Edward D. Baker, the Union commander, was shot in the head and killed. His death spurred on the Confederate soldiers, and a Union retreat was sounded. Some Union soldiers escaped down a cart path, but the majority was forced down a steep and rocky 80-foot bluff. Soldiers who reached the Potomac River tried swimming to Harrision Island or escaped by boat or logs. Many drowned, weighed down by their clothes and ammunition. Others were shot by Confederate troops firing down from the top of the bluff. Still others were captured and marched into Leesburg.
Among the many wounded abandoned on the Virginia shore when Union forces retreated was a young first lieutenant in the 20th Massachusetts, Oliver Wendell Holmes. Although wounded several times during the war, he survived and became one of the most notable justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since the 1950s, there has been periodic interest in reinterring the remains of this cemetery to Culpeper National Cemetery and disposing of the property. Public sentiment as well as congressional censure has blocked any such action.
Ball's Bluff National Cemetery was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1984.
Monuments and Memorials
A small granite monument dedicated to the memory of Clinton Hatcher, a Confederate soldier, is located within the cemetery. Hatcher was from Augusta County, Virginia, and fought with the 8th Virginia Regiment. He was killed at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff.
A marble memorial to General Edward D. Baker was erected in the memory of this Union general who was killed at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. Baker is buried at the San Francisco National Cemetery (Presidio) in California.