Manassas Campaign - July 1861 | American Battlefield Trust
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Manassas Campaign - July 1861

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Facing mounting political pressure to put the Union Army into the field, President Abraham Lincoln ordered General Irvin McDowell to go on the offensive in July of 1861. McDowell moved his inexperienced 35,000-man army westward from camps around Washington D.C. on July 16, his goal being Confederate positions near Fairfax Courthouse and Centreville, and, ultimately, Manassas Junction on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad.


The Confederate forces, under Brigadier General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, were encamped along a winding stream called Bull Run.  On July 21, after initially probing Mitchell’s and Blackburn’s Fords, Union troops crossed at Sudley’s Ford in a flanking movement around the Confederate left, opening the Battle of First Manassas or Bull Run; which ended in a massive Confederate victory. Despite the Federal defeat, hopes of a quick end to the new war were largely dashed.         

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Plan of Bull Run
Civil War
Historical Map
HISTORICAL MAP | Plan of Bull Run, Virginia circa 1861