The First Battle of Bull Run July 21 1861 Battle Cry battle report

Today its our first battle report from Battlecry  Olivia takes the role of the Union commander, whilst I Am in command of the Confederate forces.

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......

 We set the map up as per the scenario in the book, the first player to get 6 flags (wipe out 6 complete units) wins the battle.
 We prepares to see if we could do better then those before us, or would history repeat itself in miniature.
 The Union took first turn They advanced in the left flank where the rebel forces where weakest.  The rebels advanced in the centre to try to claim the hills.  There was no firing due to everything being out of range.
 Union forces played a counter attack card, letting them copy my last card, so they advanced up the middle, not ideal, but if they could close to the hills first there may be a chance.....  I played an Attack on my left flank, so Jeb Stuart and his Cavalry hurtled up to close with the Union line.
 Olivia played bombard and the union artillery fired twice at the approaching confederate infantry but missed both times completely!  In response I played forced March, and moved all my infantry in the centre to occupy the hills.  When the firing started it decimated and pushed back the union forces.

 Another push on the Union left gave the Confederate forces two flags as the cavalry swarmed in.  Things where not looking good for the Union already.
 The Union pushed up on the centre and inflicted a couple of casualties to scattered rebel units, who then played counter Attack again, held their position and opened fire shredding more Union units in the process.  Advancing over open ground was their only option but it was really costing them.
 Union forces played bombard again to try and clear their right flank from Jeb Stuarts cavalry, and managed to destroy a unit and take the general out gaining them two flags for victory, but victory was well out of reach unless something drastic happened.
 The Union pushed out on their right again to  try and take the other cavalry down, but only took a figure away.  The Confederates followed up with an assault on the same flank the cavalry charging in and hurting the infantry forces.
 As it stands the Confederates are strong in the centre and are rolling up the right flank, with little the Union can do to oppose them, and their centre is shattered.  With the Rebels only one flag from victory it would take a miracle.
 The Union pushed on that flank again trying to stop the cavalry getting into their back field, but they failed, and the confederates again concentrated on that flank wiping them out. and providing the last flag needed for victory.
 As the dust settled the Confederates are victors, 6-2, and if the game had continued would have little trouble mopping up the shattered routing Union forces.

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.


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