Balls Bluff, hill on the south bank of the Potomac River, near Leesburg, Va. In the Civil War, Union troops who had crossed the river were severely repulsed there on Oct. 21, 1861. Dissatisfaction with that defeat and with the general inactivity of the Union armies led to the organization of a joint congressional committee on the conduct of the war.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.