1st Battle of Bull Run

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The Confederate States knew this battle as the Battle of First Manassas
July 21, 1861

On July 16, 1861, the new Union volunteer army under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell marched from Washington DC toward the Confederate army under Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard, drawn up behind Bull Run creek west of Centreville. Beauregard’s men defended the strategic railroad junction at Manassas, just west of the creek. On July 17, McDowell sent a small force across Bull Run at Blackburn’s Ford to test the Confederate defenses.  A brief skirmish ensured, with light casualties and little result. McDowell made plans to attack the north or left end of Beauregard’s line, while making a simultaneous demonstration where the Warrenton Turnpike crossed the creek at a stone bridge. Early on July 21, two of McDowell’s divisions crossed at Sudley Ford and attacked the Confederate left flank on Matthews Hill. Fighting raged throughout the morning as Confederate forces were driven back to Henry Hill and more Union brigades crossed Bull Run. In the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements arrived via railroad from Gen. Joseph Johnston’s army in the Shenandoah Valley, among them a brigade of Virginians under Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson. Jackson organized a defense of Henry Hill bolstered by artillery. McDowell also ordered more infantry and artillery to Henry Hill, where the fiercest fighting of the new war occurred. Additional Confederate reinforcements broke the Union right flank, and Jackson held his ground on Henry Hill “like a stone wall.” Under counterattack and with no reinforcements, the Federals retreated which soon deteriorated into a complete rout. The next day, the shattered Union army reached the safety of Washington and the first battle of the war was over.

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Battle Stats
RESULT OF THE BATTLE
Confederate Victory
COMMANDERS

UNION

Irwin McDowell

CONFEDERATE

P.G.T. Beauregard

NUMBER OF SOLDIERS PARTICIPATING
60,680
TOTAL ESTIMATED DEATHS
4,878
Union
2,896
460 killed
1,124 wounded
1,312 missing and captured
Confederate
1,982
387 killed
1,582 wounded
13 missing and captured
  • A view where the bridge over Bull Run Creek once stood. Union forces on their retreat back to Washington demolished it in fear of being followed by Confederate forces. Notice that the landscape in the background is barren-that is from all the cannon and musket fire.

  • Along Bull Run Creek near where the bridge stood before the Union forces demolished it in fear of Confederate forces following them back to Washington, D.C.

  • Ruins of the Henry House Judith Henry, 85, lived on the hill that bears her name. Confederate snipers used her home which became a target for Union artillery. A shell struck the house and killed Judith late in the battle. She was the first civilian death in the war. Judith rests nearby. The current house is reconstructed.

  • On the battlefield after burial of Union soldiers-those wooden plaques sticking out of the ground close to the bottom of the photo.

  • Dead Confederate soldiers on the battlefield awaiting burial-which may or may not have happened.

Resource Used:

Battle of bull run facts & summary. (2020, December 15). Retrieved March 11, 2021, from https://www.battlefields.org/learn/civil-war/battles/bull-run?ms=googlepaid