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Battles at Bull Run

Battles at Bull Run

There were two battles fought at Bull Run. The first battle was fought on July 21, 1861 and was the first major battle of the American Civil War. The second battle was fought on August 28-30, 1962. Both battles ended in Confederate victory.


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Thomas Piscina

Thomas Piscina

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In order to draw Pope to battle, Jackson attacked his army. On August 29, Major General John Pope counterattacked. General Jackson, using heavy artillery, almost diminished Pope's army. There were 13,830 Union casualties and 8,350 Confederate casualties. The battle ended in a Confederate victory.

Article: Second Battle of Bull Run
Source: Second Battle of Bull Run

The Union reinforcements were located on the Virginia Peninsula regrouping after taking heavy losses at the hands of the Confederates. In a speech made before the battle, General pope showed his confidence that his offensive would be an easy task by stating to his troops that they need not concern themselves with a retreat plan.

The plan for Second Bull Run weighed uneasy on the Confederates leader, General Robert E. Lee. Lee understood the dynamics of battle and easily figured out that he would be outnumbered at least two to one if the Union armies were to unite. Confident and assured, Lee was still a man of extreme reason and did not wish to see his troops needlessly lost. Lee needed a plan and soon he had just the idea that would hopefully salvage what was rapidly becoming a bad situation.

Article: Second Bull Run
Source: Second Bull Run, Battle o...

In this second battle, Major General John Pope, appointed by President Abraham Lincoln in March 1862 to command the newly formed Army of Virginia, was soundly beaten by Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, due in part to Pope’s misapprehension of the battlefield, confused orders and the reluctance of other Union commanders to come to his aid. Confederate lieutenant general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and Lt. Gen. James Longstreet hemmed in and crushed the Federals. Unlike the full-scale rout of inexperienced Union troops that occurred during the First Battle of Bull Run, in Second Bull Run, Pope and his more experienced troops made a determined stand that allowed the army to retreat in an orderly fashion after darkness fell.

Article: Second Battle Of Bull Run
Source: Second Battle Of Bull Run...

Second Battle Bull Run: Summary...This was the culmination of an offensive campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and a battle of much larger scale and numbers than the First Battle of Full Run that was 14 months earlier.

Following a wide-ranging flanking march, Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson captured the Union supply depot at Manassas Junction, threatening Pope's line of communications with Washington, D.C.

Article: Civil War Battle History
Source: Civil War Battle History:...

With 6500 men and 13 pieces of artillery, I now awaited the onset of the enemy, who were pressing forward 20,000 strong,# with 24 pieces of superior artillery and 7 companies of regular cavalry. They soon appeared over the farther rim of the plateau, seizing the Robinson house on my right and the Henry house opposite my left center. Near the latter they placed in position the two powerful batteries of Ricketts and Griffin of the regular army, and pushed forward up the Sudley road, the slope of which was cut so deep below the adjacent ground as to afford a covered way up to the plateau. Supported by the formidable lines of Federal musatime in making themselves felt, while 3 more batteries in rear on the high ground beyond the Sudley and Warrenton cross-roads swelled the shower of shell that fell among our ranks.

Article: The First Battle Of Bull ...
Source: The First Battle Of Bull ...

Johnston himself wrote as follows:--

"A large proportion of it [Beauregard's army] was not engaged in the battle. This was a great fault on my part. When Bee's and Jackson's brigades were ordered to the vicinity of the Stone Bridge, those of Holmes and Early should have been moved to the left also, and placed in the interval on Bonham's left--if not then, certainly at nine o'clock, when a Federal column was seen turning our left: and, when it seemed certain that General McDowell's great effort was to be made there. Bonham's, Longstreet's, Jones', and Ewell's brigades, leaving a few regiments and their cavalry to impose on Miles' division, should have been hurried to the left to join in the battle. If the tactics of the Federals had been equal to their strategy we should have been beaten. If, instead of being brought into action in detail, their troops had been formed in two lines with a proper reserve, and had assailed Bee and Jackson in that order, the two Southern brigades must have been swept from the field in a few minutes, or enveloped. General McDowell would have made such a formation, probably, had he not greatly underestimated the strength of his enemy."

Article: 1st Bull Run, A Conclusio...
Source: 1st Bull Run, A Conclusio...

Hundreds of citizens of Washington traveled with the troops so they could see for themselves the defeat of the rebellion at the battle of Bull Run. It was almost a party atmosphere, people rode to the battle in carriages they had picnics and were expecting a good show. The Union army was not disciplined and the troops did not particularly like to follow orders so it took its time getting to Manassas. The army eventually made its way 25 miles south to the railroad junction in about two days time.

Waiting for them at Bull Run General Beauregard set up his troops in a position along Bull Run Creek. On July 21st McDowell ordered the advance across Bull Run. His plan relied on a successful flanking attacking against the Confederate left.

Article: Bull Run
Source: Bull Run

The Battle of Bull Run was an indicator of what was to come. Both sides clearly needed more experienced officers but this experience could only be won in battle and more battles obviously meant more casualties. At the time, the Battle of Bull Run led to more casualties than any battle yet experienced in America.

The North lost 2,896 men: 460 killed (16%), 1,124 wounded (39%) and 1,312 (45%) missing or held prisoner.

The South lost 1,982 men: 387 killed (19.5%), 1,582 wounded (80.5%) and 13 missing (0%).

Article: The First Battle of Bull ...
Source: The First Battle of Bull ...

Union armies were defeated at the first major battle of the Civil War, at Bull Run (Manassas) in Virginia. Any hopes for a swift Union victory in the Civil War were dashed at the first battle. After the surrender of Fort Sumter, two Union armies moved into northern Virginia. One, led by General Irvin McDowell, had about 35,000 men; the other, with about 18,000 men was led by General Robert Patterson. They were opposed by two Confederate armies, with about 31,000 troops, one led by General Joseph E. Johnston, another led by General Pierre G.T. Beauregard. Both Union and Confederate armies consisted of poorly trained volunteers.

Article: First Battle of Bull Run
Source: The Gilder Lehrman Instit...

The First Battle of Bull Run (referred to by the Confederates as Manassas) was fought on July 21, 1861 in Virginia, just miles from Washington, D.C. Although there had been numerous skirmishes since the Civil War began in April, with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, this was the first major engagement between Union and Confederate troops.

Article: New York State Library
Source: First Battle of Bull Run:...