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Bull Run (First Manassas). Campaigns of 1861-1862. First Manassas. Rejecting Scott’s Anaconda Plan, Lincoln gave orders in late June 1861 that the forces assembling around Washington must advance against Richmond

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Bull run first manassas

Bull Run (First Manassas)

Campaigns of 1861-1862


First manassas
First Manassas

  • Rejecting Scott’s Anaconda Plan, Lincoln gave orders in late June 1861 that the forces assembling around Washington must advance against Richmond

  • The commander, Brigadier General Irwin McDowell, objected that the men were not yet ready

  • Lincoln replied, “You are green, it is true. But they are green also. You are all green alike.”


Mcdowell
McDowell

  • Graduated from West Point in 1838 and had served in the Mexican War but not commanded troops in combat

  • Most of his career had been spent in various staff duties in the Adjutant General’s Office

  • His promotion to brigadier general from major had come largely from his political connections to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase


Patterson
Patterson

  • A second nearby Union force was located northwest of Washington, near Harper’s Ferry

  • Major General Robert Patterson commanded these 18,000 men

  • Patterson was 70 years old and a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War


First manassas1
First Manassas

  • On July 16, McDowell left Washington with about 35,000 men

  • Twenty five miles to the southwest lay 25,000 Confederates commanded by Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard

  • Beauregard had deployed his men along Bull Run and held the railroad town of Manassas Junction and blocked the direct overland approach to Richmond


Beauregard
Beauregard

  • Graduated from West Point in 1838 (same year as McDowell) and fought at Contreras, Churubusco, and Chapultepec in Mexico

  • Had the shortest term of any superintendent of West Point, resigning after five days when his native Louisiana seceded from the Union

  • His first assignment with the Confederacy had won him fame as the “Hero of Sumter”


Johnston
Johnston

  • Joseph Johnston commanded 12,000 additional Confederates at Winchester

  • Johnston was to defend the Shenandoah Valley and support Beauregard if necessary

  • Among Johnston’s brigade commanders was Thomas Jackson

  • McDowell considered it imperative that Patterson hold Johnston’s army in the Shenandoah Valley while McDowell attacked Beauregard


First manassas2
First Manassas

  • On July 16, McDowell began his advance but the movement was slow and tedious

  • Beauregard was alerted of McDowell’s movements and requested reinforcements

  • An independent infantry brigade commanded by Theophilus Holmes in Fredericksburg and six infantry companies of Wade Hampton’s Legion in Richmond began heading north


First manassas3
First Manassas

  • McDowell’s lead division finally reached Centreville at 11:00 on July 18 and a brief clash with Confederates occurred

  • At around noon, Johnston marched out of Winchester behind a screen from Jeb Stuart’s cavalry

    • Patterson was completely deceived.

    • An hour after Johnston departed, Patterson telegraphed Washington, “I have succeeded, in accordance with the wishes of the General-in-Chief, in keeping General Johnston’s force at Winchester.”


First manassas4
First Manassas

  • Johnston’s men boarded trains at Piedmont Station (now Delaplane), a stop on the Manassas Gap Railroad, and departed for Manassas Junction

  • They reached the Bull Run positions on the afternoon of July 21, representing the importance railroads would play in troop movements throughout the war


First manassas5
First Manassas

  • McDowell’s plan was to feint toward Blackburn’s Ford and the Stone Bridge while his main force marched around the Confederate left flank


First manassas6
First Manassas

  • McDowell’s army began leaving their camps at about 2:30 a. m. on July 21

    • Again the march was beset with delays

  • At 6:00, Federals and Confederates were skirmishing at the Stone Bridge

  • Johnston became concerned with this activity and began reinforcing the Confederates at the Stone Bridge while Beauregard stuck to his original plan of attacking the Federal left


First manassas7
First Manassas

  • The Confederates were unable to hold the Stone Bridge and began a disorderly retreat to Henry Hill

  • It appeared that a Federal victory was at hand

Ruins of the Stone Bridge


First manassas8
First Manassas

  • At about noon, Jackson’s 2,600-man brigade arrived on Henry Hill

  • There he met his fellow brigade commander Bernard Bee who excitedly told Jackson the Federals were driving the Confederates back

  • Jackson calmly began to establish a position on the southeast slope of the ridgeline about 400 yards from the Henry House

Ruins of the Henry House



First manassas9
First Manassas

  • Bee at some point reportedly said, “There stands Jackson like a Stonewall. Rally around the Virginians!”

    • This is the origin of “Stonewall” Jackson

  • At about 1:00, Federals began attacking Henry Hill

  • Rather than launching large scale, coordinated assaults, McDowell committed his forces piecemeal, frittering away his numerical advantage


First manassas10
First Manassas

  • The Confederates were able to defend against these piecemeal attacks while their own reinforcements were steadily arriving

  • McDowell’s army began to disintegrate

    • Thousands, in small groups or as individuals, began leaving the battlefield

    • McDowell tried to rally the army without success and eventually resorted to ordering a withdrawal


First manassas11
First Manassas

  • A few Confederate units attempted to pursue, but the victorious Confederates were almost as disorganized as the defeated Federals

  • Nonetheless the Union retreat quickly became a rout and hundreds of civilian spectators who had come out from Washington to watch the battle were caught up in the chaos

  • McDowell ultimately fell back to Washington


First manassas results
First Manassas: Results

  • Showed the difficulties in controlling large bodies of troops

    • Neither commander was able to deploy his forces effectively

      • Only 18,000 men from each side were actually engaged

  • Showed that the war would not be won in one decisive battle

    • Problems with culmination hindered Confederate pursuit

    • Lincoln began call for three year rather than 90 day enlistments

    • North called up an additional 500,000 volunteers; South 400,000


First manassas results1
First Manassas: Results

  • Showed that the armies were untrained

    • McClellan replaced McDowell and began an intense campaign to organize, train, and equip the army


First manassas reasons for federal defeat
First Manassas: Reasons for Federal Defeat

  • McDowell spent most of his energy maneuvering nearby regiments and brigades rather than controlling and coordinating the movements of his army as a whole

  • Patterson failed to hold Johnston in the Shenandoah Valley

  • Federals were repeatedly slow in marching and moving


First manassas reasons for confederate victory
First Manassas: Reasons for Confederate Victory

  • Confederate use of rail provided timely reinforcements

Victory Rode the Rails:

Jackson at Piedmont Station, July 19, 1861

by Mort Kunstler


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