CONFEDERATE FOOTSTEPS

 

PAGE ELEVEN: MAY 15, 2011...ALDIE TO EDWARDS FERRY & BALL'S BLUFF

 

 

After a lovely, chatty breakfast at the Little River Inn we headed north on 15 toward Leesburg, taking the bypass around the eastern edge

to get where we wanted to go. There is no trace left of Fort Evans, that they marched past or camped near so often. It was off to the right

at this exit in an area of one big box store after another.

 

 

This is the road leading to Edwards Ferry on the Potomac. On the day of the battle at Ball's Bluff, October 21, 1861, Jonathon was near

Edwards Ferry, trying to keep back the advance of the Union troops in this area. It was between here and Fort Evans that there is the

incident in the book of his cornbread melting in his hands in the rain. They had been told to leave their knapsacks back in Leesburg and so

had nothing with them with which to 'camp'. It was two days later they camped by the Little River at Aldie.

 

 

I think I had some notion of parking and walking across a road to take a picture of the Potomac. It was not at all like that, howsomever.

We parked in a small lot here by the remains of an old set of structures at Red Rock Overlook. These were built later, so not here when

Jonathon was.

 

 

 

A young man was coming out of the woods at the far end of the lot and I asked him about getting to the river and he

pointed us to this path, saying it was half a mile down that way. There was another way to go that was shorter but it

was very, very steep with a lot of ups and downs and so we decided on the longer route, though I kept looking at my

leg and thinking, "A half mile there means a half mile back which means a whole mile....hmmmm?" But the path didn't

look so bad, though it looked like it could rain any minute so Carl went back to the car to fetch the umbrellas.

 

 

I had thought while he was doing that I might get a head start but I didn't know which of these two paths was the

one that led to the river...so I waited.

 

 

We were parked way back there beyond the grass and bushes and just standing really, really bothers my hips since

this breakage has left me with my gait off 'n all. I considered sitting on the picnic bench, but it was sopping wet from the

heavy rain in the night and then I considered sitting on the big rock, but it was absolutely covered with doodle bugs...so

I stood.

 

 

In just a wee bit the path looked more like this and I had on sandals with white socks as the sandals are the ONLY footwear other

than winter boots my brace will fit inside.

 

 

A good way down the path I was actually pleased to see this fallen tree and, wet or not, I sat down on it.

 

 

...so did the syrup pitcher.

 

 

The trail does not go straight to the Potomac, but weaves and woggles its way in wide meanders hither and

thither through the woodlands.

 

 

Finally we were approaching the river...

 

 

The ground began dropping very steeply away and we realized just how high we were above the river.

 

 

But we came out to a place with a view like this...and, blessedly, a bench! That is Maryland across the Potomac.

 

 

 

The edge of the bluff. That's the river, not sky beyond the plants and the river is waaaay down below.

 

 

Sitting on the bench, I looked straight up, too, at the tree above me.

 

 

 

This is looking upstream, with the Potomac flowing toward the right.

 

 

The rocks here were, indeed, red. It was in this area of the path I got my Edwards Ferry rock. I took this on the way back

though I got my rock on the way toward.

 

 

I took these next several on the way back to show how easy the path is for a gimp to manage.

 

 

This is blurry because I swung my camera around too quickly, but the woods were full of deer.

 

 

...and eglantine.

 

 

More ease of path walking. There were ticks in the shrubbery, so one had to decide at times between them and mud. I generally

chose mud.

 

 

Interesting obstacle in the path.

 

 

I had sat down on that same log I had on the way to the river and was still sitting there when a large dog named Frisco came running

up to greet me and stepped on my right foot with his muddy paw.  Yes, that's an Ace bandage because even the ol' right ankle needs

support. Anyway, you can see what I was wearing to negotiate through the woods in. Frisco looked like a big pale German shepherd

but his owner said he was a lab/husky mix.  The guy was impressed that I with my brace had gone to the river. Anything for Jonathon!

 

 

The entrance road to the Ball's Bluff battlefield. Now Jonathon did not fight in the battle here as he was just a little south at

Edwards Ferry, BUT he did stand picket along the Potomac here from January 20 to the beginning of March in 1862. He was

here in the winter, in the snow and sleet and cold wind so didn't see it as it was for me in the green of mid-May.

 

 

I got out of our car and looked at this sign. Nope, no crossing the road to take a picture...again. Gulp! I didn't want to do a 'loop'.

All I wanted was to get to the river and get back...hopefully still alive. The sign does NOT tell you how to do that, so I just headed

off down the widest path, considerably already the worse for wear from Edwards Ferry.

 

 

 

...and accompanied, of course, by the ever-faithful syrup pitcher sidekick.

 

 

The wide path to...somewhere.

 

 

...which took us into what looked like a logging camp. It turns out this IS the battlefield and the park service is busily removing trees from

places where trees were not growing 150 years ago to get ready for the anniversary of the battle this October.

 

 

At the end of the wide path is the smallest of our military cemeteries.

 

 

From the tiny cemetery we headed through the woods toward the river.

 

 

The Potomac is down there, far below...somewhere.

 

 

Ah! THERE it is!

 

 

Looking straight out from the bluff across to Maryland. Harrison's Island lies below in the Potomac between where I

was standing and the Maryland shore.

 

 

The trees are not the same trees Jonathon would have seen, but I figured the rocks gotta be the same rocks!

He spent many cold weeks up here.

 

 

The river far below

 

 

Actually a gentler part of the slope down to the river.  The Union soldiers were being pushed back down this, with the

Confederates up top shooting at them as they scrambled and fell.

 

 

That brown in the middle is the edge of Harrison's Island.

 

 

More along the top of the bluff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we walked back through the cut section toward the car.

 

 

We drove into Leesburg from the north, coming from Ball's Bluff, then turned right, which is west, and headed out and up

toward Harpers Ferry.

 

 

 

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