The First Battle
On a hot summer day in July of 1861 there
stood about 30,000 Union troops lead by General Irvin McDowell ready to
march out and capture Richmond and end the war. For the troops were
young volunteers and thought that the battle would only last one day.
But they were wrong for the battle of Manassas or otherwise known as Bull
Run lasted more then one day the battle lasted six days instead.
The Confederates had 22,000 men who were headed by Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard,
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Col. Nathan Evans, Barnard Bee, Col. Francis Bartow,
and Gen. Thomas J. Jackson.
As the Union army marched towards Richmond
they had little knowledge of what the war would mean. For all they
knew was that the war would only last one day and they would go home.
General McDowell had a plan to seize the railroad junction at Manassas,
so he would have a better approach to the Confederate’s Capital.
As the Union was trying to devise a plan to seize the railroad junction
the Confederate troops were guarding the fords of Bull Run. McDowell’s
army marched his men from Washington against the Confederate army, and
ended up behind Bull Run Beyond Centreville on July 18.
On July 18th Gen. McDowell moved toward
the unions right flank, but he was stopped at Blackburn’s Ford and he spent
the next two days scouting the southerns left flank. While Gen. McDowell
was scouting the flanks at Blackburn’s ford, Gen. Beauregard asked the
Confederate Government at Richmond for assists, and they ordered Gen. Joseph
E. Johnston stationed in the Shenandoah Valley with his 10,000 troops to
go and support Beauregard. Now Gen. Johnston gathered his men a headed
toward the Manassas Junction, most of the troops arrived on July 20 and
The battle begins on the morning of July
21; McDowell sent his troops to march north toward Sudley Springs.
McDowell created a decoy attack at the stone bridge where Warrenton Turnpike
crossed Bull Run, to distract southerners. At Approximately 5:30
AM a loud single shot was fired which signaled the battle. As McDowell’s
men headed towards Matthews Hill, Col. Nathan Evans realized that the attack
at Stone Bridge was only a diversion, so he sent his command rushing towards
Matthews Hill to head off McDowell’s army. But Evans Army was too weak
and couldn’t hold back the Union for long. Brigadier General Barnard
Bee and Colonel Francis Bartow went to go assist Evans men but their reinforcements
were weak as well and the Union destroyed the Southerners lines and headed
toward Henry Hill.
Gen. Bee called on the assistance of Gen.
Thomas J. Jackson’s brigade to control the lines and hold back the Union
from going any further. This spot is where Gen, Thomas J. Jackson
got his nickname “Stonewall” because Gen. Bee shouted, “There stands
Jackson like a stone wall!”
The Union stopped the confederate’s attacks,
but the battle lasted long enough for the confederates to reenforce their
lines. Both sides where battling back and forth trying to force one
or the other off Henry Hill. The confederates took out the Unions
right flank on the Chinn Ridge, which caused McDowell’s unit to retreat
back across Bull Run, where the roads were crowed with people trying to
see the battle. In all the confusion of the battle Gen. Bee and Col.
Bartow die in action, and Gen. Stonewall takes command and attacks.
The Union retreated all the way back to
Washington and the Confederates on the Battle of Bull Run. Even though
it was a battle that people wouldn’t think that would last long it was
very costly. Which made Lincoln’s administration have to replace
McDowell with a new Maj. General George B. McClellan, who had a different
approach on the battles then that of McDowell. Gen. McClellan needs
to train his troops and reorganize his tactics.