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Bull Run,small stream, NE Va., c.30 mi (50 km) SW of Washington, D.C. Two important battles of the Civil War were fought there: the first on July 21, 1861, and the second Aug. 29–30, 1862. Both battlefields are included in Manassas National Battlefield Park (est. 1940).
First Battle of Bull Run
The first battle of Bull Run (or first battle of Manassas) was the first major engagement of the Civil War. On July 16, 1861, the Union army under Gen. Irvin McDowellMcDowell, Irvin,
1818–85, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Columbus, Ohio. He taught at West Point (1841–45) and was made captain for his service in the Mexican War.
..... Click the link for more information. began to move on the Confederate force under Gen. P. G. T. BeauregardBeauregard, Pierre Gustave Toutant
, 1818–93, Confederate general, b. St. Bernard parish, La., grad. West Point, 1838. As engineer on the staff of Winfield Scott in the Mexican War, he figured prominently in the taking of Mexico City.
..... Click the link for more information. at Manassas Junction, Va. Gen. Robert Patterson's force at nearby Martinsburg was to prevent the Confederate army under Gen. Joseph E. JohnstonJohnston, Joseph Eggleston,
1807–91, Confederate general, b. Prince Edward co., Va., grad. West Point, 1829. He served against the Seminole in Florida and with distinction under Winfield Scott in the Mexican War.
..... Click the link for more information. at Winchester from uniting with Beauregard but failed, and by July 20 part of Johnston's army had reached Manassas. On July 21, McDowell, turning Beauregard's left, attacked the Confederates near the stone bridge over Bull Run and drove them back to the Henry House Hill. There Confederate resistance, with Gen. Thomas J. JacksonJackson, Stonewall
(Thomas Jonathan Jackson), 1824–63, Confederate general, b. Clarksburg, Va. (now W.Va.), grad. West Point, 1846. Like a Stone Wall
..... Click the link for more information. standing like a "stone wall," checked the Union advance, and the arrival of Gen. E. Kirby Smith's brigade turned the tide against the Union forces. The unseasoned Union volunteers retreated, fleeing along roads jammed by panicked civilians who had turned out in their Sunday finery to watch the battle. The retreat became a rout as the soldiers made for the defenses of Washington, but the equally inexperienced Confederates were in no condition to make an effective pursuit. The South rejoiced at the result, while the North was spurred to greater efforts to win the war.
See R. H. Beatie, Road to Manassas.
Second Battle of Bull Run
The second battle of Bull Run (or second battle of Manassas) was also a victory for the Confederates. In July, 1862, the Union Army of Virginia under Gen. John PopePope, John,
1822–92, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Louisville, Ky. He fought with distinction at Monterrey and Buena Vista in the Mexican War and later served with the topographical engineers in the West.
..... Click the link for more information. threatened the town of Gordonsville, a railroad junction between Richmond and the Shenandoah valley. Gen. Robert E. LeeLee, Robert Edward,
1807–70, general in chief of the Confederate armies in the American Civil War, b. Jan. 19, 1807, at Stratford, Westmoreland co., Va.; son of Henry ("Light-Horse Harry") Lee.
..... Click the link for more information. sent Stonewall Jackson to protect the town, and on Aug. 9, 1862, Jackson defeated Nathaniel Banks's corps, the vanguard of Pope's army, in the battle of Cedar Mt. (or Cedar Run). When Gen. George McClellanMcClellan, George Brinton,
1826–85, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Philadelphia. After graduating (1846) from West Point, he served with distinction in the Mexican War and later worked on various engineering projects, notably on the survey (1853–54) for
..... Click the link for more information. 's army was gradually withdrawn from Harrison's Landing on the James River (where it had remained after the Seven Days battlesSeven Days battles,
in the American Civil War, the week-long Confederate counter-offensive (June 26–July 2, 1862) near Richmond, Va., that ended the Peninsular campaign. After the battle of Fair Oaks the Union general George B.
..... Click the link for more information. ) to reinforce Pope, Lee concentrated his whole army at Gordonsville. He planned to strike before Pope could be reinforced. Pope withdrew to the north side of the Rappahannock River. Lee followed to the south side and on Aug. 25 boldly divided his army. By Aug. 28, Jackson had marched to the Union right and rear, destroyed Union communications and supplies, and stationed his troops just west of the first Bull Run battlefield, where he awaited the arrival of James LongstreetLongstreet, James,
1821–1904, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Edgefield District, S.C. He graduated (1842) from West Point and served in the Mexican War, reaching the rank of major. At the outbreak of the Civil War he resigned from the U.S.
..... Click the link for more information. with the rest of Lee's army. Pope was attacking Jackson when Longstreet came up on Aug. 29. The attack was repulsed, but Pope, mistaking a re-formation of Jackson's lines for a retreat, renewed it the next day. After the Union troops were again driven back, Lee ordered Longstreet to counterattack. Longstreet, supported by Jackson, swept Pope from the field. The Union forces retreated across Bull Run, badly defeated. Lee's pursuit ended at Chantilly, where the Union forces stopped Jackson on Sept. 1, 1862. Pope then withdrew to Washington.
See E. J. Stackpole, From Cedar Mountain to Antietam (1959); A. Nevins, The War for the Union (Vol. II, 1960).