First Battle of Bull Run




Although the first shot in the Civil War was fired at Fort Sumter, it was the shots fired on July 21st, 1861 at the first major land battle near the Manassas Railway Junction that showed wide-eyed innocent soldiers what war really was. These shots killed thousands of soldiers and shocked the nation into realization that the United States had gone to war with themselves. Many soldiers were extremely confident of a quick and easy victory. But it was at the Battle of Bull Run where soldiers from opposing sides had their first major confrontation.


Pressured to use his army of volunteers before their 90-day enlistment ended, it was General Irvin McDowell who lead 35,000 inexperienced Union soldiers from Washington, D.C. to Manassas, Virginia. Union troops marched to Manassas in order to gain control of the highly used rail hub that would most easily enable them to the best land approaches to the Confederate’s capital- Richmond, Virginia. The Confederates were outnumbered by 13,000 men as the anxiously awaited the arrival of more Confederate troops. Until then, the Confederates stood behind General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson as the Union soldiers went into a full on assault. New Confederate troops arrived from Shenandoah Valley, equaling the amount of Union soldiers. With the help of Stonewall Jackson and the rebel yell(a blood-curdling scream used to scare away soldiers) the Confederates were able to make the Union soldiers retreat all the way back to Washington, D.C.


In the end, with a combined 5,000 casualties the Confederacy was able to win the Battle of Bull Run. Because of the events at Bull Run the nation realized this would not be an over the night war. All thoughts of a short and easily won war were ended. The Southerners were overjoyed; believing their hopes of a quick victory might be realized. The Lincoln administration, the nation, and Northerners were struck with an impression this would be a long, bloody, and costly war for the United States.