First Battle of Bull Run

The First Battle of Bull Run was the first of many major battles of the American Civil War.  This battle took place just a little north of Manassas, Virginia on July 21, 1861.  It is also known as the First Battle of Manassas.   

The First Battle of Bull Run occurred just a few short months after the initial start of the Civil War, which was the attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC.  The First Battle of Bull Run ended up being a bloody battle with many losses and casualties on both sides, and highlighted the weaknesses of untrained and unprepared military personnel.  It ended up being a victory for the Confederate army and boasted morale and confidence throughout the southern states.

During the battle, the Confederate troops were led by Brigadier General Beauregard, and the Union troops were led by Brigadier General McDowell.  Confederate soldiers arrived in the battleground area by railroad, which gave them an advantage of being more prepared and ready for the oncoming battle.  Union soldiers, who traveled to the area by foot, were exhausted from the extreme heat and the trek they endured along the way.  Both armies, which had about 18,000 men each, were not adequately trained for battle, nor were they engaged under strong leadership.

The First Battle of Bull Run emphasized the idea that the Civil War would most likely be a bloodier, costlier, and longer war than was initially believed.  In the beginning, neither army anticipated the outcome of the next several years.  This battle highlighted that idea, as well as the lack of training, leadership, and supplies that were needed to engage in effective war battles.

Furthermore, once the battle seemed as if it was coming to an end, and northern soldiers began to retreat, they did so in an unorganized, panicky sort of way.  Many soldiers fled the Manassas area and headed north towards Washington, DC with little or no formation or forethought.  Hence, the Union troops suffered high numbers of enlisted men that went missing following the battle.

Although the First Battle of Bull run was a victory for the Confederate states, the main lesson from this battle was the lack of preparedness that both sides experienced.  There were many deficiencies that needed to be addressed, including; soldier training, protection of artillery, tactical intelligence, and strong leadership.  This was the first of many battles to follow, and there were many lessons to be learned from this bloody encounter.