Bull Run Is Underway – 7/21/1861

US History |

Bull Run is what officially marked the beginning of the Civil War, or at least the “war” part of it. It was nearly three months after the Civil War was announced that the first land battle really kicked off. A large group of Union forces led by General Irvin McDowell was met by a large group of Confederate forces led by General Pierre G.T. Beauregard. 

The start of this little “meeting” was caused when the Union felt that the Confederate army needed to go away as fast as possible and with the least amount of deaths possible. However, that actually led to a premature offensive by General Irvin McDowell into Virginia. McDowell, who was followed by some 34,000 inexperienced and barely trained troops, was on the lookout for the Confederates as they neared the railroad junction of Manasses. Nearly 30 miles from Washington D.C., McDowell wasn’t prepared for the some 20,000 troops that General Pierre G.T. Beauregard had gathered together. Not to mention the nearly 10,000 more troops that General Joseph Johnston led by railroad to help Beauregard.

On July 21, as the two armies began to near each other more and more, civilians began to turn out to watch the first real battle of the Civil War. It all started with three Union divisions making their way up the Bull Run stream, which caused the Confederates to be moved back to Henry House Hill. However, this is where General Thomas J. Jackson of the Confederates would receive his famous nickname “Stonewall” Jackson. Beauregard had mustered up a nice defensive at Henry House Hill led by Stonewall Jackson that consisted of a brigade of infantryman. Waiting for the Union to arrive, the Confederates began to repulse a series of charges coming at them.

While all of this is going on, the Union are starting to fall off after the Confederates get ahold of their artillery. After that, Beauregard ordered an attack in response towards the exposed Union group. Once the Confederates began to charge down the hill, it caught McDowell and his infantry off guard and caused them to retreat down Bull Run. However, it was more of a scurry rather than a retreat. It was said that a line of supplies followed them back as they hastily tried to flee. 

Overall, the Union saw a loss of nearly 3,000 mean due to death, a wound or not being found. On the other hand, the Confederates only endured nearly 2,000 casualties. The death that was seen from this battle not only frightened the civilians, but also the government. They were now faced with a difficult decision on how to combat the insurrection that was coming from the South of the United States.

Bull Run marked the beginning of the Civil War, which was a rough time in the United States’ history as it has been the only war that has seen the North of the U.S. fighting the South of the U.S. The Civil War would end with the South’s defeat and the nation “unifying” once again.

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Amy Haren


Amy comes from a family of literary geniuses. Her mother and father were published many times in many different publications throughout the world for not only their stories but their photos. Growing up reading the stories her parents wrote, Amy fell in love with animals and travel. She travels when she can and usually heads for the jungles or oceans.