After the humiliation of Bull Run, General George McClellan was appointed to revitalize the Union’s Army of the Potomac. Under pressure for results, McClellan sent out a reconnaissance force to investigate (erroneous) reports of the Confederates abandoning Leesburg on the west bank of the Potomac. The force commander General Stone sent a detachment of raw recruits across the river to scout, they reported (erroneously) sighting an enemy camp. A follow up force was ordered under Colonel Edward Baker, a close friend of President Lincoln, but an inexperienced soldier. With just four small boats to ferry his troops across, Baker’s force ended up stranded at the foot of Balls Bluff when Colonel Evans’s Confederates arrived on the scene, driving them over the Bluff where many drowned or surrendered. Baker was killed in the fighting. There were bitter recriminations for the debacle, and Stone was relieved of his command.
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