July 21, 1861 ~ The First Battle of Manassas

The First Battle of Bull Run: At Manassas Junction, Virginia was the first major battle of the U.S. Civil War and resulted in a smashing victory for the upstart Confederate army.

The untried Union army under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell marched from Washington D.C. and on July 21, 1861 attacked a vastly outnumbered Confederate army, which was drawn up behind Bull Run Creek.

Fighting raged throughout the day as Confederate forces were driven back to Henry Hill.

Thomas J. Jackson earned the nickname “Stonewall” during the battle when he rushed his troops forward to close a gap in the line against a determined Union attack.

One of his fellow generals (Brigadier General Barnard Bee) reportedly said, “Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall!”–a comment that spawned the nickname.

For a bit, it looked as the heavily outnumbered Confederates would break, but late in the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements arrived and turned the tide of the battle in the South’s favor.

The Federal retreat rapidly deteriorated into a rout.

Although victorious, Confederate forces were too disorganized to pursue.

This battle convinced the Lincoln administration that the war would be a long and costly affair.


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