1861 Ball's Bluff Flag









Reinhold Wesselhoeft and Alois Babo, officers in Company C, 20th Mass., a company consisting mostly of German immigrants

At the battle of Ball's Bluff. Oct. 21, 1861, the Confederates forced the Union troops to the edge of the bluff, where the only escape was to swim across the strong currents of the Potomac River while under fire from the Confederates on the bluff.

According to the 20th Massachusetts Regimental history:

"Captain Babo and Lieutenant Wesselhoeft undertook to swim the river without taking off their uniforms, or their equipment, even pistols. Nevertheless they seemed to be doing well until, immediately after a volley was fired, one of them was heard to exclaim in German that he was shot, and that was the last that was seen of either of them until Lieutenant Wesselhoeft's body was discovered thirteen days afterwards in the river twenty miles below. As there was no wound upon it, it is probable that Captain Babo was the one shot, and his devoted friend had lost his life in trying to save him."

George A. Bruce, The Twentieth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry 1861-1865 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906; reprint Baltimore: Butternut and Blue, 1988), p.55.



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