Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First Bull Run Campaign and Aftermath: July 14 through July 27, 1861

July 14, 1861: With about 40,000 troops, Gen. Irvin McDowell of the U.S. Army marches out of Washington into Virginia toward the railroad junction of Manassas.

July 17, 1861: Pres. Davis orders Gen. Joseph Johnston, with 9,000 men in the Shenandoah Valley, to move to Manassas, and reinforce Beauregard, who has 22,000 there.

July 18, 1861: BLACKBURN’S FORD– Virginia: Gen. McDowell sends troops forward to test the crossings over Bull Run, near Manassas. At this ford, they are driven back by Confederates under Gen. James Longstreet.

July 21, 1861: FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN (Manassas), Virginia – In the first major battle of the war, Gen. McDowell takes two divisions and marches north to move around the Confederate left flank. McDowell has about 32,000 with him, but is only using 20,000 for the flank movement. He is facing Beauregard who, unbeknownst to the Yankees, now has 31,000, as Johnston’s men from the Shenandoah begin disembarking from the trains in the dark hours of the morning, and moving into position. The Union troops in the flanking force cross the Sudley Ford on the Bull Run River, and as they advance, encounter only one under-strength C.S. brigade under "Shanks" Evans. Evans resists the Union advance, but finally breaks. Beauregard sends the brigades of Bee and Bartow to the left to relieve Evans; these troops take up position on Henry House Hill just as the Union attack rolls up to hit them. This line crumbles as Thomas J. Jackson’s brigade advances to the hill, and holds it against determined Federal attacks. Gen. Bee points to Jackson, and yells to his men, "There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians!" Bee’s South Carolinians do rally, although
Bee is killed minutes later. More Confederate reinforcements arrive, and Jackson’s line holds. As Hampton’s Legion moves up to support Jackson, and Stuart’s cavalry too, the Union artillery places a battery so that it can enfilade (fire on the flank) the Rebel line. The 33rd Virginia Inf. Reg. rushes to capture the battery. Wearing blue uniforms, the Virginians are mistaken for friends; the Union guns do not fire on them and are therefore captured. About this time, Stuart leads his 1st Virginia Cavalry in a charge, and the Union line begins to dissolve. The Confederate line, now strongly reinforced by brigades under Cocke, Early, and Kirby-Smith, moves forward, and the Federal troops begin to retreat, which later turns into a rout, men dropping their rifles and losing touch with their regiments. A crowd of picknickers from Washington on a hill across the river also take alarm, and their carriages clog the Cub Run bridge, the only safe retreat rout. The retreat then turns into a panic, and the Federal soldiers retreat steadily all night, 30 miles back to Washington. Back at Manassas, Jackson urges Gen. Beauregard and Johnston to pursue and occupy Washington, but both commanders err on the side of caution. Confederate victory.


U.S.– 460 killed, 1,124 wounded, 1,312 missing or captured total of 2,896.

C.S.– 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, 13 missing total of 1,982.

July 24, 1861: Gen. Jacob Cox of the Union Army attacks Gen. Henry Wise’s brigade at Tyler Mountain in western Virginia and defeats Wise’s troops.

July 25, 1861: A small force of Confederate cavalry under Captain John Baylor skirmish with a Union garrison from Ft. Fillmore, in southern New Mexico Territory, and capture the fort, driving the Federal troopers north.

July 27, 1861: Gen. Irvin McDowell is relieved of command of the U.S. Army of the Potomac, and Gen. George McClellan is put in his place.

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