The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas (the name used by Confederate forces), was fought on July 21, 1861, in Prince William County, Virginia, near the city of Manassas, not far from the city of Washington, D.C. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War.
The Union's forces were slow in positioning themselves, allowing Confederate reinforcements time to arrive by rail. Each side had about 18,000 poorly trained and poorly led troops in their first battle. It was a Confederate victory followed by a disorganized retreat of the Union forces.
Just months after the start of the war at Fort Sumter, the Northern public clamoured for a march against the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, which they expected to bring an early end to the rebellion. Yielding to political pressure, Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell led his unseasoned Union Army across Bull Run against the equally inexperienced Confederate Army of Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard camped near Manassas Junction. McDowell's ambitious plan for a surprise flank attack on the Confederate left was poorly executed by his officers and men; nevertheless, the Confederates, who had been planning to attack the Union left flank, found themselves at an initial disadvantage.
Confederate reinforcements under Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston arrived from the Shenandoah Valley by railroad and the course of the battle quickly changed. A brigade of Virginians under the relatively unknown brigadier general from the Virginia Military Institute, Thomas J. Jackson, stood their ground and Jackson received his famous nickname, "Stonewall Jackson".
The Confederates launched a strong counterattack, and as the Union troops began withdrawing under fire, many panicked and the retreat turned into a rout. McDowell's men frantically ran without order in the direction of Washington, D.C. Both armies were sobered by the fierce fighting and many casualties, and realized the war was going to be much longer and bloodier than either had anticipated.
Lets see how it turned out on the tabletop......
History repeated itself, with the Union Routed and running at the end of the battle, Olivia realised she had lost about halfway through, but fought on, her argument being, you have won this but there are 30 more battles to win the war. Great fun was had by all, it was a hard scenario for the Union to do well on having to take the hills, so we shall see what the next game brings us.
You can visit the battlefield still today, it is preserved, and see the hill range and open ground the Union advanced into. I very much want to visit as many of the battlefields as I can one day to try and see a tiny glimpse of what it may have been like looking out on that landscape.