In the fall of 1861, General McClellan ordered his subordinate, Charles Pomeroy Stone, to make a demonstration on the West bank of the Potomac 35 miles from Washington DC to see if the Confederates might react. A patrol had mistakenly reported a rebel camp ripe for raiding so Stone, in turn, ordered Colonel Deven to advance on the supposed camp. Having done so, Deven found nothing of the kind. Confused, he settled his men in a defensive position and awaited new orders. Stone decided to send the remainder of the 15th Massachusetts, With Colonel Edward Baker in command, across the river so that he might conduct a reconnaissance in force around Leesburg, VA. A sharp engagement ensued with Baker calling for more reinforcements. The army strength on both sides grew to approximately 1700 men.
Colonel Baker was killed late in the afternoon during a failed attack on the rebel line. Before long, disorganized federal troops were recrossing the river. By early evening The 18th Mississippi arrived and aided in an assault that fully routed the boys in blue. Their artillery abandoned, many Union soldiers were forced down the steep slope called Ball's Bluff and into the river. Soldiers swarmed the waiting boats. Overcrowded, several boats capsized on their way back to Harrison Island. An untold number of Federals drowned in their desperate attempt to escape. By day’s end, 223 Union men were killed, 226 were wounded, and 553 were trapped and captured by the advancing rebels. In all, the rebels lost 36 KIA, 264 WIA, and 3 captured for a total of 303 – killed, wounded and captured.
Ball's Bluff is a hex-based, chit-pull system game using company sized units. It features low complexity rules and low counter density - 103 pieces. The map has been drawn by famed Civil War map creator, Rick Barber and covers the area immediately surrounding Ball's Bluff. The action represented covers only the heavy fighting which took place from the early afternoon on. Playtime, once the rules are understood will average two hours or less.