Thanks to the widespread use of the telegraph on the east coast, and despite initial governmental attempts to censure the news coming out of Leesburg, Virginia,  the facts about the disastrous Union defeat at Ball's Bluff, the death of Colonel Edward Dickinson Baker, and partial casualty lists spread quickly.  The New York Times for Friday, October 25, 1861 ran the sub-headline "Repulse of the Union Forces-Heavy Loss- Gallant Conduct of the Men" and commented that the  "...Destruction of life has been far greater, in proportion to the numbers engaged, then at Bull Run." Add to that the commentary in  Frank Leslie's Illustrated Magazine that also posed the question abouwho had sent Colonel Baker into the "jaws of death?" 

    In the October 25, edition, the New York Times started their Partial List of Killed and Wounded by assigning the wrong rank to Oregon's fallen statesman , as the first line is for "Brig-Gen E.D.Baker, killed." then it goes on to list other Union casualties including: "Capt Sloan, Fifteenth Massachusetts, wounded in foot"; "James Cranberger, killed--fell in his brother's arms", "Lieut-Col. Ward- lost a leg; remaining on the island..." and Capt. Watson, Mass.,Co E, Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, shot while swimming the river..."

    The October 30, 1861  edition of the Loudoun County, Virginia's morning weekly  The Democratic Mirror,  jubilantly reported that "Amid the din of war, the crush of Yankees and the retreat of armies, we last week missed an issue—and ere this the glad tidings of our glorious gain on the 21st of October has been wafted on the wings of the morning to the uttermost parts of our newborn Republic, but not withstanding we this morning give such information of that brilliant affair, as has come to our knowledge during the week..."  Further down in the article, the report continues with some of their  first accounts of the Union casualties, before submitting the Confederate Army's partial listing of their own dead and wounded:

     "...To say that we were victorious overwhelming victorious, conveys but a faint idea of the glorious achievement of the day. Not only were the Hessians repulsed with great slaughter in every charge, not only did they leave their dead and mangled bodies strewn over the ground like autumn leaves, but in their precipitate retreat it is estimated that more than one hundred found a watery grave, while no less than 657 were made prisoners. Among them were Col. W. R. Lee, 20th Mass; Col. Cogswell, 42nd New York Volunteers; and Major E. J. Reven, 20th Mass." -   For the South, The Democratic Mirror reported that the  "... battle on our side was exclusively conducted by infantry. Since the above was in type we have ascertained that our entire loss in killed and wounded, is 159.


Company A—F. A. Osbourn, 2d corporal; Private John B. Reeder.
Company C—Christopher Lambert, Neddy Mahan.
Company F—Sergeant T. C. L. Hatcher; Corp. George A. Donohoe; private Joseph Gastillow; Wm. C. Furr, mortally wounded, since dead.
Company G—Private James Ballinger."
Company K—J. S. Sidalle, shot through the leg — since dead... "

     New York Times war correspondent Elias Smith was in the thick of the battle action, he wrote of meeting "wounded men returning (across the river) in their comrade's arms and bleeding from the legs, chest, head, arms, and every other description of wounds... " He reported that the " Fifteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts Regiments suffered very severely, losing a large part of their numbers in killed and wounded..."  Smith also  posted vivid descriptions of the the rain-soaked and drawn-out retreat to Harrison Island; where the mostly untreated wounded were sent down to Edward's Ferry "in leaky canal boats" and then loaded onto ambulances by which they were carried over to Poolsville, Virginia.

These preliminary reports and their disclosed horrors about the Battle of Ball's Bluff were only harbingers of the even higher casualty counts to come during the next years of the Civil War.