Battle at Bull Run: A History of the First Major Campaign of the Civil War

The battle, was unique in the Civil War in that no general on either side had ever exercised high command in combat. July 21, 1861 would demonstrate that careers devoted to theoretical studies of warfare provided poor indicators of success in combat.

First Manassas
First Bull Run
Civil War Virginia

American Civil War
July 21, 1861

This was the first major land battle of the Union and Confederate armies in Virginia

A Single Grand 
Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 
One of the better overviews of the campaign and battle of First Manassas or Bull Run. The book is very easy to read and is broken down in manageable chunks, with the events before and after the battle Victory Manassas
A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas

Nearly 900 men lost their lives and 2,700 were wounded. Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson earned his legendary nickname "Stonewall" here. Both North and South believed that a single victory at Manassas would decide the Civil War before it barely started

First Manassas Campaign Map

On July 16, 1862, the untried Union army under Brigadier General 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. Confederate General Bee and Colonel Bartow were killed. 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 Major General George B. McClellan, who set about reorganizing and training the troops.

Result(s): Confederate victory

Location: Fairfax County and Prince William County

Campaign: Manassas Campaign (July 1861) previous battle in campaig    Campaigns

Date(s): July 21, 1861

Principal Commanders: Brigadier General Irvin McDowell [US]; Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston and Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard [CS]

Forces Engaged: 60,680 total (US 28,450; CS 32,230)

Estimated Casualties: 4,700 total (US 2,950; CS 1,750)

Manassas 1861


The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide
Virginia was host to nearly 1/3rd of all Civil War engagements. This guide covers them all
Upper Potomac River Map 1861
Upper Potomac River Map 1861

General Irvin McDowell's army of 35,000 Union troops marched from Washington, D.C. toward the railroad junction at Manassas. Here the Orange & Alexandria Railroad met the Manassas Gap Railroad, which led west to the Shenandoah Valley. Twenty-two thousand Southern soldiers under the command of General Pierre G.T. Beauregard guarded the area, waiting for an attack. On July 21, 1861, the two armies met on the fields overlooking a small stream named Bull Run. Meanwhile, on July 20th and 21st, 10,000 additional Southern troops arrived via the Manassas Gap Railroad. After hours of battle, the newly arrived southern units forced the exhausted and discouraged Union soldiers to withdraw back to Washington, D.C

Kindle Title
General McDowell
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: General Irvin McDowell's Account of the Battle of First Bull Run

Kindle Available
Maps of Bull Run
The Maps of First Bull Run
An Atlas of the First Bull Run (Manassas) Campaign, including the Battle of Ball's Bluff, June-October 1861

The Maps of First Bull Run breaks down the entire operation (and related actions) into numerous map sets or "action-sections" enriched with more than fifty full-color original full-page maps. These cartographic originals bore down to the regimental and battery level and include the march to and from the battlefield and virtually every significant event in between.
Joe Ryan Battlewalk Bull Run

Youtube Channel JoeRyanCivilWar

Rallying Confederate Troops under Bee, First Battle of Bull Run Battle, c.1861
Rallying Confederate Troops under Bee
First Battle of Bull Run Battle, c.1861

24 in. x 18 in.
Buy at
Framed   Mounted

Click to enlarge Pictures
Manassas Battlefield Map

View of Bull Run

Sudley Ford, with the Sudley Church in the background
Sudley Ford Bull Run Manassas

72 Piece Civil War Army Men

Play Set 52mm Union and Confederate Figures, Bridge, Horses, Canon
  • 48 Union and Confederate Soldiers up to 2-1/8 inches (52mm) tall
  • 4 Horses, 4 Sandbag Bunkers, 6 Fence Sections, 3 Cannon, 3 Limber Wagons (Ammo Carts)
  • Bridge, Small Barracks, 2 Cardboard buildings
  • Scale: About 1/35th
  • Packaging: Plastic Bag with Header Card

U.S. State Park Battle Map
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Battle Bull Run
Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861

One of the better overviews of the campaign and battle of First Manassas or Bull Run. The book is very easy to read and is broken down in manageable chunks, with the events before and after the battle.
Kindle Available
Drummer Boy
Drummer Boy at Bull Run

You get to know two families during the Civil War. It focuses on the two teens Jeff and Leah who go through struggles with their friendship as Jeff's family joins the confederacy.
Bull Run
The Battle of First Bull Run
The Civil War Begins

Three months after the shelling of Fort Sumter, Union and Confederate forces met for the first time in earnest combat. However, neither side was prepared at this early stage of the war, and confusion reigned on the battlefield
Fields of Fury young reader book
Fields of Fury
The American Civil War

Written for young readers a stirring account of the greatest conflict to happen on our nation's soil, the Civil War, bringing to life the tragic struggle that divided not only a nation, but also friends and family. well-organized, well-executed, kid-friendly history of the Civil War was a brilliant idea if there ever was one. It's difficult to imagine anyone doing a better job than McPherson at breaking down this complex, interrelated series of events

American Civil War Book Titles
Kindle Available
Balls Bluff
A Little Short of Boats: The Civil War Battles of Ball's Bluff and Edwards Ferry, October 21 - 22, 1861

The Northern troops were on largely open ground, poorly organized, and with their backs to the wide river when the Southern infantry attacked. The twelve fitful hours of fighting that followed ended in one of the worst defeats (proportionally speaking) either side would suffer during the entire Civil War
Balls Bluff
Balls Bluff: A Small Battle and Its Long Shadow

Confederate troops scored what was probably the most complete victory by either side in the Civil War at a place called Ball's Bluff, thirty-five miles west of Washington, DC, on the Virginia bank of the Potomac River. Union soldiers were driven in a panic off the high bluff into the river, where many of them drowned
Joseph E. Johnston
A Civil War Biography

A biography of the public and private life of General Joseph E. Johnston, one of the most important Southern field commanders during the American Civil War
P.G.T. Beauregard
Napoleon in Gray

Beauregard often gets overlooked, he was never as beloved as Lee or Stonewall Jackson, but he was capable, the man had a sharp mind and Lee understood this, even if Jefferson Davis did not

U.S. National Park Service
U.S. Library of Congress.

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