First Bull Run: The History of the Civil War’s First Major Battle

First Bull Run: The History of the Civil War’s First Major Battle

Narrated by:
Jim Walsh
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Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
February 2024
1 hour 15 minutes
After Fort Sumter, the Lincoln Administration pushed for a quick invasion of Virginia, with the intent of defeating Confederate forces and marching toward the Confederate capitol of Richmond. Lincoln pressed General Irvin McDowell to push forward. Despite the fact that McDowell knew his troops were inexperienced and unready, pressure from Washington politicians forced him to launch a premature offensive against Confederate forces in Northern Virginia.

McDowell’s strategy during the First Battle of Bull Run was grand, and in many ways it was the forerunner of a tactic Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and James Longstreet executed brilliantly on nearly the same field during the Second Battle of Bull Run in August 1862. McDowell’s plan called for parts of his army to pin down General P.G.T. Beauregard’s Confederate soldiers in front while marching another wing of his army around the flank and into the enemy’s rear, rolling up the line. McDowell assumed the Confederates would be forced to abandon Manassas Junction and fall back to the next defensible line, the Rappahannock River. In July 1861, however, this proved far too difficult for his inexperienced troops to carry out effectively.

As the first major land battle of the Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run made history in several ways. The two sides fought near the railroad junction at Manassas on July 21, 1861, just 25 miles away from Washington, which was close enough for many civilians from the nation’s capital to come and watch what they expected to be a rout of Confederate forces, and for awhile it appeared as though that might be the case.

McDowell’s strategy ultimately fell apart though, mostly thanks to the use of the railroad. Confederate reinforcements under General Joseph E. Johnston, including a brigade led by Thomas Jonathan Jackson, arrived by train in the middle of the day, a first in the history of American warfare.
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