Friday, October 21, 2011

A Tragic Outcome for Two Friends

Monday, October 21, 1861
As the terrible events of Ball's Bluff unfolded, and the men of the Twentieth Massachusetts lined up along the Virginia side of the Potomac River, they were faced with the choice of swimming across the river or finding boats along the river bank to carry them across. Many of those that could swim made the attempt, and those that could not remained on the river bank. Either choice was equally perilous. Captain Alois Babo of Company G and his friend Second Lieutenant Reinhold Wesselhoeft of Company C attempted to swim. As they navigated the rough current of the Potomac River Captain Babo was shot by the pursuing Confederates lined along the heights of Ball's Bluff. In a valiant effort Lieutenant Wesselhoeft tried to save his friend from drowning but tragically he drowned in the attempt. Nearly two weeks later Lieutenant Wesselhoeft's lifeless body washed ashore nearly twenty miles downstream.1

1George A. Bruce, The Twentieth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry 1861 - 1865 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Riverside Press, 1906), 55.

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