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In describing the atmosphere surrounding the Battle of Ball's Bluff in October 1861, Wilder Dwight vividly recalls the blunders made by Union leaders that cost the north many lives. Among those, Dwight discusses the wounding and death of William Lowell Putnam, as well as other prominent members of the Massachusetts 20th Infantry Regiment including Caspar Crowninshield, Henry Lee Higginson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and Putnam's cousin, James Jackson Lowell. Dwight's dismay with the way the battle proceeded is evident when he writes, "All our mishaps are political. Military achievement was never the result of a caucus."