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Digital History ID 3063


Any hopes for a swift northern victory in the Civil War were dashed at the First Battle of Bull Run (called Manassas by the Confederates). After the surrender of Fort Sumter, two Union armies moved into northern Virginia. One, led by General Irvin McDowell (1818-1885), had about 35,000 men; the other, with about 18,000 men was led by General Robert Patterson (1792-1881). They were opposed by two Confederate armies, with about 31,000 troops, one led by General Joseph E. Johnston (1807-1891), another led by General Pierre G.T. Beauregard (1818-1893). Both Union and Confederate armies consisted of poorly trained volunteers.

McDowell hoped to destroy Beauregard's forces while Patterson tied up Johnston's men; in fact, Johnston's troops eluded McDowall and joined Beauregard. At Bull Run in northern Virginia 25 miles southwest of Washington, the armies clashed. While residents of Washington ate picnic lunches and looked on, Union troops launched several assaults. When Beauregard counterattacked, Union forces retreated in panic, but Confederate forces failed to take up pursuit.

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