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The First Battle of Bull Run
Transcript of The First Battle of Bull Run
Manassas was the first official battle of the U.S. Civil War
It took place in July 21, 1861, two months after the Confederates opened fire on Ft. Sumter.
It began when 35,000 Union troops left Washington DC to strike the Confederate force of 20,000 troops at Bull Run.
Lincoln wanted to demonstrate superiority of Union.
Union forces attacked Bull Run because they thought it would be an easy victory to a short easy war.
They believed it may have led to capture of Confederate capital Richmond.
If Richmond fell, secession thoroughly discredited and the Union could be restored without damage to the South
The Union public was eager for their army to advance on Richmond ahead of planned meeting of Confederate Congress there.
The overall goal was to make quick work of the bulk of the Confederate army, open the way to Richmond, the Confederate capital, and end the war.
The Battle of Bull Run
Impacts of First Manassas on South
The victory at First Bull Run inflated southern ego.
This caused southern desertion, many soldiers wanting to quit while they were ahead.
It also affected their preparation for later combat.
Planning for those slackened greatly.
Located on a small river named Bull Run at Manassas Junction in Virginia.
25 miles from Washington D.C.
100 miles South of Richmond, Virginia
35,000 Union troops
20,000 Confederate troops
The Union troops were led by Irvin McDowell
Promoted to Brigadier General as a result of political connections to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase
McDowell never commanded troops before in combat
He was defeated at Manassas and then replaced by George McClellan
Detached from army to protect D.C.
He later commanded Corps. at Second Battle of Manassas, yet another defeat.
The Confederates were lead by PGT Beauregard
He ordered the first shots of the Civil War during the bombardment of Ft. Sumter, April 1861
Instrumental in victory at Battle of Bull Run
Later served at Battle of Shiloh and Seige of Corinth
He was known to have an outspoken and combative nature
He was removed from his position by Confederacy President Davis and placed in command of Defenses at Charleston and Defense of Petersburg 1864
Robert E. Lee's Letter to His Wife
JULY 27, 1861
ROBERT E. LEE
The following is a letter from Robert E. Lee to his wife following the Confederate victory at the Battle of Manassas (Bull Run).
Excerpt from a letter dated July 27, 1861
...That indeed was a glorious victory and has lightened the pressure upon our front amazingly. Do not grieve for the brave dead. Sorrow for those they left behind--friends, relatives, and families. The former are at rest. The latter must suffer. The battle will be repeated there in greater force. I hope God will again smile on us and strengthen our hearts and arms. I wished to partake in the former struggle, and am mortified at my absence, but the President thought it more important I should be here. I could not have done as well as has been done, but I could have helped, and taken part in the struggle for my home and neighbourhood. So the work is done I care not by whom it is done. I leave to-morrow for the Northwest Army. I wished to go before, as I wrote you, and was all prepared, but the indications were so evident of the coming battle, and in the uncertainty of the result, the President forbade my departure. Now it is necessary and he consents. I cannot say for how long, but will write you.... I inclose you a letter from Markie [Miss Martha Custis Williams--second cousin of my mother, afterward Mrs. Admiral Carter, U.S.N.]. Write to her if you can and thank her for her letter to me. I have not time. My whole time is occupied, and all my thoughts and strength are given to the cause to which my life, be it long or short, will be devoted. Tell her not to mind the reports she sees in the papers. They are made to injure and occasion distrust. Those that know me will not believe them. Those that do not will not care for them. I laugh at them. Give love to all, and for yourself accept the constant prayers and love of truly yours,
R. E. Lee.
Primary Source Account
"The first major, called Bull Run in the North, Manassas in the South, is witnessed by a carefree audience of Washington's elite. Their brightly decorated carriages carry men in fine suits and society matrons in colorful dresses. They perch on a hillside, enjoying their picnics, anticipating a great show with bands playing merrily while young men in blue march in glorious parade and sweep aside the ragged band of rebels. What they see is the first great horror, the stunning reality that this is in fact war, and that men will die. What they still cannot understand is how far this will go, and how many men will die."
-The Last Full Measure, Jeff Shaara
Northern Response to the First Battle of Bull Run
"Chapter 21." The American Pageant. Houghton Mifflin College Div, 2006.
"Civil War Photos." CivilWarPhotos.com. 08 Oct. 2013 <http://civilwarphotos.net/files/manassas.htm>.
Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations. 08 Oct. 2013 <http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/bullrun.html?tab=facts>.
Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations. 08 Oct. 2013 <http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/firstmanassas/first-manassas-maps/bull-run-animated-map/>.
Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations. 08 Oct. 2013 <http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/robert-e-lees-letter-to-his.html>.
Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations. 08 Oct. 2013 <http://www.civilwar.org/>.
Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations. 08 Oct. 2013 <http://www.civilwar.org/hallowed-ground-magazine/spring-2011/an-end-to-innocence.html>.
"First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas)." History.com. A&E Television Networks. 08 Oct. 2013 <http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-first-bull-run>.
"First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) Photos." History.com. A&E Television Networks. 08 Oct. 2013 <http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-first-bull-run/photos>.
Shaara, Jeff. Introduction. The Last Full Measure. New York: Ballantine Books, 1998.
In the previous document, General Lee in a way dismisses the casualties who gave their lives in battle. He had his eyes set for the next battle believing that God would grace the South with another win. This shows how his ego grew due to the victory at Manassas. He put a lesser value on those lives lost and only looked at the positivity of winning the battle. The General also mentioned how he wanted to be presented during the fight would be leaving to join the Northwest army the next day. This shows the great pride the Southerners had in this victory and they felt that they did not need that much time to prepare for the following battle.
Impacts of First Manassas on the North
In this battle there were a total of 60,680 soldiers, with 28,450 Union soldiers and 32,230 Confederates. Their were a total of 4, 878 casualties.
The Union forces lost a total of 2,896 men to death, wounding, disappearance, and capture.
The Confederate forces lost a total of 1,982 soldiers also.
The Union forces were commanded by General Irvin McDowell
The confederate forces were led by two men, P.G.T. Beauregard and Joseph E. Johnston.
Just hours before the fighting at Manassas took place, many Northerners believed that this would be a quick and easy war.
Innumerable civilians armed with picnic baskets folled the Union Army out from Washington to watch what everyone thought would be the end of a short rebellion.
Ultimately those very civilians got caught in the stampede of the retreating Union troops with the Confederate cavalry hot on their trails.
Most of them joined (or led) the flight back to Washington and escaped unharmed.
The only civilian killed was a widow named Judith Henry whose home was engulfed by the fighting.
Lincoln was pushed by the popular fervor to act and attack the Confederate forces. He instructed Irvin McDowell, the cautious commander of the Union forces in Northern Virginia to formulate a plan to attack the Confederates who, commanded by General P.G.T. Beauregard, held a strong position along Bull Run, just northeast of Manassas Junction.
McDowell intended to have 30,000 troops in the effort, marching in three columns, with another 10,000 in reserve. He also planned to station 15,000 Federal troops in Shenandoah Valley to prevent the Confederate force of 11,000 men from slipping out of the Valley to reinforce Beauregard near Manassas Junction.
The loss at Bull Run was a major blow for the North
However, it also awakened a new fighting spirit within the Union army
It caused them to buckle down and take this "short rebellion" more seriously.
They finally realized that they were no longer just feuding with the South but that they were in all out war
It was a real wake up call for the North
This set the stage for war to be fought not merely for the preservation of the Union, but also for the issue on slavery
Factors Working Against the Plan
It was a solid, slightly ambitious plan, but it faced many forces that were working it. First, the Union troops were new and widely undisciplined, and this plan required precision marching and coordination. Also, the maps were woefully inadequate, leading to mistakes in routes and distances.
The Shenandoah Valley Catastrophe
General Joseph Johnston's confederate forces, largely because of Union General Patterson's inaction, were able to move across the Valley and reach Manassas Junction to reinforce Beauregard's forces by early morning of July 20th.
Three Brigades were able to complete the trip which aided the Confederates in defeating McDowell's forces.
The Union forces, exhausted and sleepless were behind schedule due to the incorrect maps and lax discipline. McDowell's plan required his men to march into Sudley Ford, a town near Bull Run, in the pre-dawn hours of July 21st. But, they arrived almost 3 hours late, allowing the Confederate forces to organize and spread out for the coming battle.
The Battle Begins
The morning of July 21st began with both generals planning to outflank their opponent’s left. Both the Confederates and Federals faced many technical problems during the execution of the first battle. Hindering the success of the Confederate plan were several communication failures and general lack of coordination between units. McDowell’s forces, on the other had, were hampered by an overly complicated plan that required complex synchronization. The constant and repeated delays on the march and effective scouting by the Confederates gave McDowell's movements away as the Confederates recognized the flanking attack of the Union. McDowell’s forces began by shelling the Confederates across Bull Run. Others crossed at Sudley Ford and slowly made their way to attack the Confederate left flank. At the same time as Beauregard sent small detachments to handle what he thought was only a distraction, he also sent a larger contingent to execute a flanking movement of his own on the Union left.
Fighting raged throughout the day as Confederate forces were driven back, despite efforts by Colonel Thomas Jackson to hold important high ground at Henry House Hill, earning him the name “Stonewall Jackson.” Late in the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements including those arriving by rail from the Shenandoah Valley, due to the mistakes of Patterson, extended the Confederate line and succeeded in breaking the Union right flank.
At the battle’s climax Virginia cavalry under Colonel James Brown Stuart arrived on the field and charged into a confused mass of New Yorkers, sending them fleetly to the rear. The Federal retreat rapidly deteriorated as narrow bridges, overturned wagons, and heavy artillery fire added to the confusion. The calamitous retreat was further impeded by the hordes of fleeing onlookers who had come down from Washington to enjoy the spectacle. Although victorious, Confederate forces were too disorganized to pursue. By July 22nd, the shattered Union army reached the safety of Washington.
The campaign provided the important lesson to both sides that the war would not be easy, but a long and bloody fight.
Who were the leaders for the Southern and Northern armies?
What was the North's major flaw coming into the battle?
How many civilians were killed during the battle and what were their names?
What was the major impact the battle had on the north?
What was the major impact the battle had on the south?