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Civil War battles often had one name in the Northwhich was usually associated with a prominent nearby physical feature, and another in the Southwhich was usually derived from the town or city closest to the battlefield. The strategic ificance of the location lay in the fact that Manassas was an important railroad junction.
Robert E. Leecommanding the Virginia state forces, was loath to become the aggressor in the expanding conflict and refrained from attacking Washington or supporting Confederate sympathizers in Baltimore. Abraham Lincoln had proclaimed a blockade of Confederate ports April 19 and called for 42, three-year volunteers and 40, more men to the regular army and navy May 3.
Although Winfield Scottthe commanding general of the Union army, had little faith in state militia units, he proposed to use them to defend Washington and recover the Federal garrison at Harpers Ferrywhile he trained the newly raised volunteers for an autumn campaign.
After Virginia voted overwhelmingly in favour of secession, Lee, acting as military adviser to Confederate Pres.
Jefferson Davisgathered two armies, one under Brig. Joseph E. When Union Maj. Robert Patterson threatened Harpers Ferry with a larger force, Johnston evacuated his post on June 15 and fell back, covering the Manassas Gap railway.
Because the infirm year-old Scott was unable to conduct field operations, he had appointed Gen. Irvin McDowell as field commander of the forces south of the Potomac. The plan was approved, and McDowell advanced from Alexandria on July McDowell, discovering that the Confederate right and centre were too strong for a frontal assault, undertook a flanking movement around the enemy left.
His delay in advancing, however, would prove the undoing of his plan. Johnston was able to mask his intentions and, utilizing the Manassas Gap railroad, moved 10, troops to Bull Run. Before the attack could be launched, however, the Union army assaulted the Confederate left on July Confederate Col.
Nathan Evans, who had been left to guard the Stone Bridge, quickly assessed that the attack on the bridge was merely a demonstration, and he was able to move 11 of his 15 companies to Matthews Hill above Sudley Springs. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer!
Rally behind the Virginians! The fighting at Henry House Hill was severe, and about pmMcDowell brought up two artillery batteries to the fighting line. A Confederate regiment, being mistaken for friendly troops and allowed to approach, silenced the guns with close rifle fire. From that time, though the hill was taken and retaken several times, the Union attack made no further headway. The Federal forces gave way at once, and a Confederate artillery barrage turned the retreat into a panicked flight to the Potomac.
The victors were also exhausted and did not pursue, although Johnston moved to the heights around Centreville.
In the end Bull Run arguably did more harm to the victors than to the defeated. George McClellanwho was called to the chief military command at Washington, to raise, organize, and train the Army of the Potomac. Johnston meanwhile was similarly employed in fashioning the Army of Northern Virginia, which for four years carried the Confederacy on its bayonets.
The humiliation of Bull Run provided focus to the unorganized enthusiasm of the North, which eventually coalesced into a determination to crush the rebellion at all costs. First Battle of Bull Run. Videos Images. Additional Info. Print print Print.
Table Of Contents. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Facebook Twitter. Give Feedback External Websites. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article requires. External Websites. See all media. Date: July 21, Show more Context: American Civil War Johnston Thomas Francis Meagher Show more. Full Article. Learn through an animated map about the First Battle of Bull Run.
American Civil War Events. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Subscribe Now. Porter King, 4th Alabama Regiment, July Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Thomas J. The shock of defeat galvanized the Union, which called formore recruits.
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The battle came to be known in the South as the Battle…. After a succession of more or less sleepless nights, Lincoln produced a set of memorandums on military policy. His basic thought was that the armies should advance concurrently on several fronts and should move so as to hold and use…. History at your fingertips. up here to see what happened On This Dayevery day in your inbox! address.
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