McDowell, Irvin

McDowell, 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. In the Civil War, McDowell, promoted to brigadier general in the regular army (May, 1861), commanded the Union troops at the first battle of Bull RunBull 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).
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. After that defeat he commanded a corps under his successor, George B. McClellan. When the Peninsular campaignPeninsular campaign,
in the American Civil War, the unsuccessful Union attempt (Apr.–July, 1862) to capture Richmond, Va., by way of the peninsula between the York and James rivers. The Plan

Early in 1862, Gen. George B.
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 began, McDowell's 1st Corps (then called the Army of the Rappahannock) was withdrawn from McClellan's command to defend Washington. In the summer of 1862, McDowell's force fought at the second battle of Bull Run. McDowell shared in the blame for that defeat and was removed from command. He later commanded various territorial departments until his retirement in 1882. He was promoted to major general in 1872.
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McDowell, Irvin

(1818–85) soldier; born in Columbus, Ohio. A West Point graduate (1838), he served in the Mexican War, on the frontier, and at army headquarters in Washington. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was given command of the Union troops assigned to defend the nation's capital—his first true command position—and political demands for a quick victory forced him to commit an unready Union army to battle at Bull Run (Manassas) in July 1861; the resulting defeat cost him the top command. He continued to command units within the Army of the Potomac but after his performance at Second Bull Run (August 1862), he was removed and never again led troops in the field. However, he continued in the army in various administrative posts until 1882. Later he served as parks commissioner of San Francisco, Calif.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.