First Bull Run (Manassas), VA

Battle of First Bull Run (Manassas)

 

Date(s): July 21, 1861

Location: Please click on link below for map.

Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia, United States

Campaign(s): Manassas Campaign [July 1861]

Battles in Campaign:

Situation:

  • Prior to the battle, Irvin McDowell was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln to command of the Army of Northeastern Virginia.

  • McDowell was harassed by impatient politicians and citizens in Washington to engage and defeat the Confederate Army in northern Virginia.

  • McDowell was concerned about the untried nature of his army, but he was reassured by Lincoln, who responded, "You are green, it is true, but they are green also; you are all green alike."

  • On July 16, 1861, McDowell departed Washington with the largest field army   gathered on the North American continent (28,452).

  • The Confederate Army of the Potomac (21,883) under P. G. T. Beauregard was camped near Manassas Junction, approximately 25 miles from Washington.

  • McDowell planned to attack Beauregard while Major General Robert Patterson's 18,000 men engaged Joseph Johnston's Army of the Shenandoah in the Shenandoah Valley, preventing them from reinforcing Beauregard.

  • Although he had arrived at a sound plan, McDowell had delayed long enough that Johnston's force was able to board trains at Piedmont Station and rush to Manassas Junction to reinforce Beauregard's men.

Commanders:

  • Union: Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell

  • Confederate: Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard

Principal Forces:

  • Union: 28,450

  • Confederate: 32,230

Description:

  • This was the first major land battle of the armies in Virginia. 

  • On July 16, 1861, the untried Union army under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell marched from Washington against the Confederate army, which was drawn up behind Bull Run beyond Centreville.

  • On the 21st, McDowell crossed at Sudley Ford and attacked the Confederate left flank on Matthews Hill.

  • Fighting raged throughout the day as Confederate forces were driven back to Henry Hill. 

  • Late in the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements (one brigade arriving by rail from the Shenandoah Valley) extended and broke the Union right flank.

  • The Federal retreat rapidly deteriorated into a rout. Although victorious, Confederate forces were too disorganized to pursue.

  • Thomas J. Jackson earned the nom de guerre “Stonewall.”

  • By July 22, the shattered Union army reached the safety of Washington.

  • This battle convinced the Lincoln administration that the war would be a long and costly affair.

  • McDowell was relieved of command of the Union army and replaced by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who began reorganizing and training the troops.

Photo Gallery:2

Manassas National Battlefield - Henry Hill Visitor Center

Manassas Battlefield Map

Uniform Worn by Zouaves

Going into Battery

Charges for 10-pound Parrott Gun

Union and Confederate Uniforms Worn at First Manassas

Uniforms Worn by Union and Confederate Soldiers

Artillery Wagons

Map of Henry Hill Walking Tour

The Fight for Ricketts' Guns

Invaded Farmland

Artillery Battery on Henry Hill

Judith Henry Grave Site

In Memory of the Patriots who Fell at Bull Run

In Memory of the Patriots who Fell at Bull Run

Honoring the Dead

Attack from Mathews Hill

Confederates Rally

Various Sections of Virginia Artillery

"Like a Stone Wall"

Washington (Louisiana) Arillery Battalion

Rifled Cannon

Charge on Griffin's Guns

General Barnard Bee Commander of the Third Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah Was Killed on this Site

"..there standands Jackson like a stone wall, rally behind the Virginians"

General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

Point Blank Volley

Counterattack

 

Classification3: A

Casualties4:

  • Union: 2,950

  • Confederate: 1,750

Results: Confederate Victory Miniature Confederate victory

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Virginia Tourism

Recommended Resources:


1 National Park Service summary.

2 Please click on the image to enlarge it. You may copy the images if you include the following note and link with each image: "Courtesy of civil-war-journeys.org."

3 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

4 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 12/14/2016