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