The First Battle of Bull Run 1861

What was going on in 1861?

The American Civil War had started in April, 1861. In this war, the Northern states under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln were at one side and the southern states called the Confederacy were at the other side. The southern states wanted to break away from USA but the northern states thought that this was against the Constitution.

Background of the First Battle of Bull Run

The First Battle of Bull Run was the first major battle of the American Civil War. The total strength of the Union army was around 50,000 soldiers while the total strength of the Confederate army numbered at 35,000. The Union army hoped that if they could win this battle and take control of the Confederate capital of Richmond, the war would be quickly over. On the other side, the Confederate army hoped that if they could decisively defeat the Union army, the northern states would leave the southern states in peace.

Location and Leaders of the Battle

The battle took place in the Fairfax County and the Prince William County of Virginia. The Union army was divided into two portions, one led by General Robert Patterson and another led by General Irwin McDowell. The Confederate army was led by General Joseph E. Johnston and General P.G.T. Beauregard.

The Fighting

The First Battle of Bull Run took place on July 21, 1861. The Union army began the attack and due to their larger numbers, was initially successful in pushing back the Confederate army. On the other hand, the second Union army was supposed to stop General Joseph E. Johnston from bringing reinforcements to the Confederate army.

While the Confederate army was being pushed back, it took its famous stand at the Henry House Hill. Here, Colonel Thomas Jackson of the Confederate rallied the Confederate soldiers and stood against the Union army, not giving up the hill despite fierce fighting.

Colonel Thomas Jackson was later named ‘Stonewall Jackson’ for this. While this was happening, Confederate reinforcements under General Joseph E. Johnston were successful in avoiding the second Union army and directly reaching the battlefield. Here they joined forces with the main Confederate army and finally defeated the Union army.

The Result of the Battle

The battle proved to be an important victory for the Confederate army. However, it was a costly victory. The Confederate army suffered around 2000 casualties while the Union army suffered around 3000 casualties. The Confederate army was able to win the battle despite having fewer soldiers than the Union army.

Aftermath of the Battle

The northern states had hoped that a quick victory of the Union army would end the war. The defeat of the Union army shattered their hopes. But they were not ready to give up and braced for a longer war now. President Abraham Lincoln gave permission to enlist 500,000 new soldiers to the Union army to prepare for the war with Confederacy. The Confederacy also realized that one victory could not end the war and that they would have to continue fighting the Union.

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