Battle of Bull Run



A.D. 1861


When Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, was bombarded and compelled to surrender (April 12-13, 1861), it could no longer be doubted that war was inevitable, and President Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand volunteers to suppress the insurrection. These were forthcoming without delay - in fact, more were offered than could be accepted. Most of those from the Western States were concentrated at Cairo, Illinois, while those from the Eastern States were forwarded to Washington. As soon as these were uniformed and armed, there was an impatient popular demand that they be marched against the enemy without delay, regardless of the fact that they needed thorough organization and discipline in order to become an effective army. The most noticeable form of this demand was the cry "On to Richmond!" which appeared first in the New York Tribune, edited by Horace Greeley, whose narrative of the consequent battle we give herewith. The important effect of that battle was not purely military; for as soon as the people of the North had recovered from their surprise at the defeat, they set to work to make stronger and better preparations for continuing the conflict. The correspondents of European papers wrote it up in such a way as to convince their readers that there could be no doubt as to the speedy triumph of the Confederacy, and this enabled the Confederate Government to sell bonds in Europe and thus raise funds for carrying on the war. At the same time the victory confirmed the Southern people in their belief that the South was invincible. Thus this battle - the greatest, up to that time, that had ever been fought on this continent - had an important influence in prolonging the contest.

THE movement of the Union Grand Army, commanded in the field by General Irvin McDowell, but directed from Washington by Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, began on Tuesday, July 16th. General Royal 0. Tyler's column, in the advance, bivouacked that night at Vienna, four and a half miles from Fairfax Court House. It rested next night at Germantown, two miles beyond Fairfax; and, on Thursday, at 9 A.M., pushed on, to and through Centerville, the Confederates retiring quietly before it. Three miles beyond that village, however, they were found strongly posted at Blackburn's Ford, on Bull Run, and, on being pressed, showed fight. This was at 1.30 P.M. A spirited conflict, mainly with artillery, resulted, the Confederates being in heavy force, under the immediate command of General James Longstreet. The Unionists, more exposed, as well as outnumbered, finally drew back. The losses were nearly equal: eighty three on our side; sixty-eight on the other. Sherman's battery, Captain Romeyn B. Ayres, did most of the actual fighting, supported by Colonel Israel B. Richardson's brigade, consisting of the First Massachusetts, Twelfth New York, and Second and Third Michigan. Regarded as a reconnaissance in force the attack might be termed a success, since the result demonstrated that the main Confederate army was in position along the wooded valley of Bull Run, half-way between Centerville and Manassas junction, and purposed to remain.

Next Page

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
– Jesus, John 14:27