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Bull Run

First Manassas

July 21, 1861

Fairfax County and Prince William County , Virginia

This was the first major land battle of the armies in Virginia. On July 16, 1861, the untried Union army under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell marched from Washington against the Confederate army, which was drawn up behind Bull Run beyond Centreville. On the 21st, McDowell crossed at Sudley Ford and attacked the Confederate left flank on Matthews Hill. Fighting raged throughout the day as Confederate forces were driven back to Henry Hill. Late in the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements extended and broke the Union right flank. The Federal retreat rapidly deteriorated into a rout. Thomas J. Jackson earned the nom de guerre “Stonewall.” By July 22, the shattered Union army reached the safety of Washington.
Learn More About This Battle
Battle of Bull Run

An End to Innocence

Learn more about the first major battle of the American Civil War - the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run). It was here that two green armies met in the field for the first time.

Soldiers at Bull Run

Shaping a Volunteer Army

Learn more about the great challenges that both the North and South faced in creating large armies filled with raw recruits.


From Sudley Ford to Henry House Hill, see our collection of Bull Run (First Manassas) photos.

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Historian John Hennessy discusses the Battle of First Manassas and the role that Stonewall Jackson played in this first great battle.

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Recommended Reading

"Battle at Bull Run: A History of the First Major Campaign of the Civil War"
by William Davis

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First Battle of Manassas

"First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence, July 18-21, 1861"
by John Hennessy

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