1861 July 21st

July 21 1861 Sunday

First Battle of Bull Run, VA (CWSAC Decisive Battle – Confederate Victory)
Oregon Inlet, NC

First Bull Run Campaign
McClellan’s West Virginia Campaign
Patterson’s Shenandoah Valley Operations

Go to July 22 1861

Atlantic Ocean. The Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured the American bark Alvarado.

CSA. Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter replaced Robert Augustus Toombs as Confederate Secretary of State. Toombs resigned to command a brigade in the Confederate Army.

California. Skirmishes with Indians at Eel River and South Fork Eel River.

Missouri. As Union Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon pursued the secessionist Missouri State Guard to the southwest portion of the state, loyal Home Guard companies were forming throughout the state. Stranded secessionists also attempted to get organised. At Kahoka Union David Moore was elected colonel of the 1st Northeast Missouri Home Guard Regiment. Confederate Colonel Martin E Green called up the 2nd Division of the Missouri State Guard to a training camp on the Horseshoe Bend of the Fabius River. There he formed the 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Division, Missouri State Guard under Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph C Porter and Major Benjamin W Shacklett. Moore was faced by a growing secessionist force and by dissension in his own command. He determined to strike local secessionists, and then fall back to Athens where he would be close to the supply depot of Croton, Iowa and the support of the Iowa militia. With the help of a company of Illinois militia and a company of Iowa Home Guards he attacked the village of Etna in Scotland County and drove off Shacklett’s cavalry and then withdrew to Athens.

Oregon Inlet, North Carolina. USS Albatross (Commander George A Prentiss) engaged CSS Beaufort in Oregon In­let. The USS Albatross carried heavier guns and forced CSS Beaufort to withdraw.

Virginia. Incident at Charlestown. Union forces under Brigadier-General Jacob Dolson Cox encountered Confederates from the command of Brigadier-General Henry Alexander Wise.

First Bull Run, Virginia, also known as First Manassas or Young’s Branch. Public clamour and political pressure had pushed the Union General-in-Chief Major-General Winfield Scott to order an advance into the South before his untried troops were adequately trained. Scott ordered Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell to advance from Washington, DC, against the Confederate troops stationed at Manassas Junction. The Confederate position south of Bull Run Creek was dictated in part by the defensibility of Bull Run but also by the need to protect the junction at Manassas of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad which led north towards Washington, DC, and connected with the Manassas Gap Railroad which afforded contact with the Confederate army in the Shenandoah Valley. By the time McDowell’s army of 38,000 troops found Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard’s army in position along the southern banks of Bull Run Creek, the defenders had been reinforced by 12,000 troops of General Joseph Eggleston Johnston from the lower Shenandoah Valley. The combined Confederate force had increased in strength to around 32,230 men, not far short of the Union strength.
McDowell planned to turn the Confederate left, executing a sound but lengthy and complicated movement with untrained troops and inexperienced staff. Two divisions of the Union army began a long fourteen-mile march at 1 am to envelop the Confederate left flank by crossing Bull Run Creek at Sudley Ford. These two divisions of Brigadier-General David Hunter and Brigadier-General Samuel Peter Heintzelman would then move south to open more crossings of Bull Run. Opening the crossing at the Stone Bridge would allow them to be joined first by State Brigadier-General Daniel Tyler’s division and then, in due course, by the reserve division of Colonel Dixon S Miles. Union State Brigadier-General Theodore Runyon’s division would remain in reserve to guard the roads south of Centerville.
The Union march was slow and poorly coordinated. Tyler reached the Stone bridge at about 5.30 am, by which time the flanking force of Hunter and Heintzelman had only just turned off the Warrenton Turnpike towards Sudley. When Tyler fired his first artillery shell to start his demonstration at 6.00 am, the flanking troops were still three miles short of Sudley Springs Ford. At 8.45 am Confederate Signals Officer, Major Edward Porter Alexander, signalled a message to Colonel Nathan George Evans at Stone Bridge, warning him of the threat of the enemy’s flank march. Evans moved part of his demi-brigade to oppose the envelopment and left the remainder to guard the Stone Bridge. By 8am Evans felt sure that the enemy force across the river at the Stone Bridge was making no more than a diversion. He moved more of his men, about 900 in all, to occupy Matthews Hill to his rear. Confederate brigades under Brigadier-General Barnard Elliott Bee and Colonel Francis Bartow were moved north to reinforce Evans on the north side of Young’s Branch.
Johnston, although superior in rank to Beauregard, took responsibility to direct the movement of reinforcements from the stronger right flank to strengthen the left, allowing Beauregard, who was more familiar with the terrain, to command the action along the battle line itself. Beauregard’s vague plans for an offensive action near Blackburn’s Ford and at Union Mills were cancelled.
The first Union troops under Colonel Ambrose Everett Burnside began to cross Bull Run at 9 am, more than two hours behind schedule. The Union force enjoyed initial success in the fighting at Matthews Hill and pushed back the Confederate line, which was now held by 2,800 men under Evans, Bartow, and Bee. By 11.30 the Union advance had driven the Confederates back. The initial success was not followed up immediately as the tired Union troops struggled to maintain momentum and cohesion. McDowell’s next objective was Henry Hill about a mile and a half south of Matthews’ Hill, only six miles from Manassas Junction. He paused the advance to allow two batteries (Captain James Brewerton Ricketts and Captain Charles Griffin) to go into action on Dogan’s Ridge. This delay allowed more Confederate troops to be shifted from the quiet right flank to oppose the advance These included the brigade of Brigadier-General Thomas Jonathan Jackson which reached Henry Hill at about noon. An experienced artillerist, Jackson gathered 13 guns to strengthen his position. Fighting raged throughout the day with both sides seeking to push inexperienced troops piecemeal into the firing line along a lengthening front.
The Union advance resumed at about 2 pm when McDowell ordered Ricketts’ and Griffin’s batteries forward from Dogan’s Ridge to open fire at a very close range. Ricketts went into action with his guns south of Henry House, within 300 yards of the Confederate line, while Griffin went into action on his left. Both batteries commenced a fierce exchange with the Confederate artillery. Efforts to move Union infantry forward to support the advanced batteries were slow to develop. Griffin then decided to move two of his six guns from the left flank first to the Sudley Road and then onto a slight rise on Ricketts’ right. Unexpectedly, at 3pm, a battalion of infantry wearing blue tunics appeared on the right of Griffin’s detached section of artillery on the rise by the Sudley Road. Griffin believed they were Confederates but he was overruled by the army’s Chief of Artillery, Major William Farquhar Barry, who insisted that they were friendly troops. They were in fact Confederates of the 49th Virginia Infantry Colonel William Smith. When they opened fire from 70 yards’ range they caused heavy casualties to Griffin’s gunners. Smith charged, supported by Colonel Alfred Cumming’s 33rd Virginia Infantry, and they captured the two guns. Support from the 11th New York (Fire Zouaves) arrived just in time to save the other exposed Union guns.
Meanwhile, the Union infantry pressed forward across Henry Hosue Hill. A steadfast stand under heavy fire made by Confederate Brigadier-General Thomas Jonathan Jackson’s brigade, known afterwards to posterity as “Stonewall” because of his stout defence, stabilised the Confederate line. This solid resistance enabled the Confederates to develop a counter-attack which turned the tide.
Two regiments of Confederate Colonel Phillip St George Cocke’s Brigade advanced and forced the Union line off Henry Hill. McDowell responded by moving Colonel Oliver Otis Howard’s brigade onto Chinn Ridge, west of Henry Hill. This move threatened to expose the Confederate left flank. However, by 3.30 pm, Confederate reinforcements (including Brigadier-General Edmund Kirby Smith’s brigade just arriving by rail from the Shenandoah Valley) extended the Confederate further and further to the left, and Howard’s flanking movement was blocked. Confederate Colonel Jubal Anderson Early and Colonel Arnold Elzey’s brigades from the Shenandoah attacked Howard at 4pm and broke the Union right flank on Chinn Ridge.
Unable to rally and reform his inexperienced troops, and despairing of resuming his advance, McDowell ordered a general withdrawal at about 4.30 pm. The retreat rapidly deteriorated into a rout. Confederate cavalry under Colonel James Ewell Brown Stuart attacked to increase panic among the retreating Union infantry. McDowell’s army fled the battlefield in growing disorder, protected by a staunch rearguard provided by a Regular infantry battalion (14th US Infantry) under Major George Sykes and a cavalry squadron under Major Innis Newton Palmer (2nd US Cavalry). Many men crossed Stone Bridge safely but an overturned wagon further along the road to Centreville at the bridge over Cub Run caused chaos, which was compounded by the presence of anxious crowds of civilian onlookers. Efforts to rally the army at Centreville behind the division withdrawn from the Blackburn’s Ford road failed, and the Union army continued to flee in disorder as far as Alexandria, the defences of Washington, DC, and into the capital itself.
Although victorious, the Confederates were as disorganised and fatigued by their victory as the Union army was in defeat, and did not immediately mount a pursuit. Enough fresh troops could not be found for the pursuit by the inexperienced Confederate commanders. Although they captured 28 artillery pieces, 17 of them modern rifled pieces, as well as other valuable military equipment, the strategic rewards of the tactical victory were not fully achieved.
Union forces engaged were 28,452, and their losses were 2,645 men, of whom 481 (or 418) were killed, 1,124 (or 1,011) wounded, and 1,216 missing (alternative reports of Union losses vary between 2,706 and 2,952, or even 3,334). A detachment of US Marines commanded by Major Reynolds took part in the battle. Nine Marines were killed, 19 were wounded, and 16 missing in action. Two naval howitzers were also lost in the battle. Confederate forces engaged numbered 32,232 with losses reported as 1,981, of whom 387 were killed, 1,582 wounded, and 12 missing. Alternative reports of Confederate losses varied from 1,752 men to 1,982 men. (CWSAC Decisive Battle – Confederate Victory)


Union Department of Northeastern Virginia: Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell
Army of Northeastern Virginia: Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell
1st Division: State Brigadier-General Daniel Tyler
1st Brigade, 1st Division: Colonel Erasmus Darwin Keyes
2nd Brigade, 1st Division: Brigadier-General Robert Cumming Schenck
3rd Brigade, 1st Division: Brigadier-General William Tecumseh Sherman
4th Brigade, 1st Division: Colonel Israel Bush Richardson
2nd Division: Brigadier-General David Hunter
1st Brigade, 2nd Division: Colonel Andrew Porter
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division: Colonel Ambrose Everett Burnside
3rd Division: Colonel Samuel Peter Heintzelman
1st Brigade, 3rd Division: Colonel William Buel Franklin
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division: Colonel Orlando Bolivar Willcox
3rd Brigade: 3rd Division: Colonel Oliver Otis Howard
4th (Reserve) Division: State Brigadier-General Theodore Runyon
5th Division: Colonel Dixon S Miles
1st Brigade, 5th Division: Colonel Louis Blenker
2nd Brigade, 5th Division: Colonel Thomas Alfred Davies

Confederate Department of the Potomac: General Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Army of the Potomac: General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard interim
Bonham’s 1st Brigade (Potomac): Brigadier-General Milledge Luke Bonham
Evans’s Command (Detached from Bonham’s Brigade): Colonel Nathan George Evans
Ewell’s 2nd Brigade (Potomac): Brigadier-General Richard Stoddert Ewell
Jones’ 3rd Brigade (Potomac): Brigadier-General David Rumph Jones
Longstreet’s 4th Brigade (Potomac): Brigadier-General James Longstreet
Cocke’s 5th Brigade (Potomac): Colonel Philip St George Cocke
Early’s 6th Brigade (Potomac): Brigadier-General Jubal Anderson Early
Reserve Brigade (Potomac): Brigadier-General Theophilus Hunter Holmes
Army of the Shenandoah: General Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Jackson’s 1st Brigade (Shenandoah): Brigadier-General Thomas Jonathan Jackson
Bartow’s 2nd Brigade (Detached from Bee’s Brigade): Colonel Francis Stebbins Bartow
Bee’s 3rd Brigade (Shenandoah): Brigadier-General Barnard Elliott Bee
Smith’s 4th Brigade (Shenandoah): Brigadier-General Edmund Kirby Smith
Cavalry (Shenandoah): Colonel James Ewell Brown Stuart

Union Organisation

USA: James Brewerton Ricketts promoted Brigadier-General USV 30 April 1862 to rank from 21 July 1861.

USA: Orlando Bolivar Willcox promoted Brigadier-General USV 19 August 1862 to rank from 21 July 1861.

USA: Michael Corcoran promoted Brigadier-General USV 15 August 1862 to rank from 21 July 1861.

Commander in Chief: President Abraham Lincoln
Vice-President: Hannibal Hamlin
Secretary of War: Simon Cameron
Secretary of the Navy: Gideon Welles

Atlantic Blockading Squadron: Silas Horton Stringham
Gulf Blockading Squadron: William Mervine
Pacific Squadron: John Berrien Montgomery
West Indies Squadron: Garrett J Pendergrast
Western Gunboat Flotilla: John Rodgers
Potomac Flotilla: Thomas Tingey Craven

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

Department of the East: John Ellis Wool

Department of Florida: Harvey Brown

Department of Kentucky: Robert Anderson

Department of Maryland: John Adams Dix awaited

Department of Northeastern Virginia: Irvin McDowell

  • Army of Northeastern Virginia: Irvin McDowell

Department of the Ohio: George Brinton McClellan

  • Army of Occupation: George Brinton McClellan

Department of the Pacific: Edwin Vose Sumner

  • District of Oregon: George Wright

Department of Pennsylvania: Robert Patterson

  • Army of the Shenandoah: Robert Patterson

Department of the Shenandoah: Nathaniel Prentiss Banks awaited

Department of Texas: Vacant

Department of Virginia: Benjamin Franklin Butler

Department of Washington: Joseph King Fenno Mansfield

Western Department: Nathaniel Lyon interim John Charles Frémont awaited

  • District of Ironton: Benjamin Gratz Brown
  • Army of the West: Nathaniel Lyon

Confederate Organisation

CSA: General Joseph Eggleston Johnston arrived to command the Army of the Potomac, succeeding Brigadier-General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who continued as second-in-command.

CSA: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard promoted General ACSA 31 August 1861 to rank from 21 July 1861.

CSA: Samuel Jones promoted Brigadier-General PACS 21 July 1861.

CSA: Arnold Elzey promoted Brigadier-General PACS 21 July 1861.

CSA: William Henry Chase Whiting was promoted Brigadier-General PACS 28 August 1861 to rank from 21 July 1861.

CSA: Jubal Anderson Early promoted Brigadier-General PACS 21 July 1861.

CSA: Brigadier-General Barnard Elliott Bee was mortally wounded at First Bull Run.

CSA: Colonel Francis Stebbins Bartow (Brigadier-General unconfirmed) was killed at First Bull Run.

Commander in Chief: President Jefferson Finis Davis
Vice-President: Alexander Hamilton Stephens
Secretary of War: Leroy Pope Walker
Secretary of the Navy: Stephen Russell Mallory

Military Adviser to the President: Robert Edward Lee

Department No 1: David Emanuel Twiggs

  • “Forces in New Orleans” “Army of Louisiana”: Braxton Bragg

Department of Fredericksburg: Daniel Harvey Hill

  • District of Aquia: Daniel Ruggles

Department of Norfolk: Benjamin Huger

Department of North Carolina: Theophilus Hunter Holmes

  • Defences of North Carolina: Theophilus Hunter Holmes

Department of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder

  • Army of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder

Department of the Potomac: Joseph Eggleston Johnston

  • Army of the Potomac: Joseph Eggleston Johnston
  • Army of the Kanawha: Henry Alexander Wise

Department of South Carolina: Daniel Harvey Hill

Department of Southwestern Virginia: William Wing Loring

Department of Texas: Earl Van Dorn

  • Defences of Galveston: John Creed Moore

Department of West Florida: Braxton Bragg

  • “Forces in Pensacola”: Braxton Bragg

Western Department: Leonidas Polk

  • District of Upper Arkansas: William Joseph Hardee
  • Forces in Missouri: Benjamin McCulloch

Defences of Savannah: Alexander Robert Lawton

Indian Territory: Benjamin McCulloch

Forces in Richmond: Thomas Turner Fauntleroy

Army of Liberation: Gideon Johnson Pillow

Army of the Northwest: William Wing Loring

Union Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General USA

Winfield Scott
George Brinton McClellan
John Charles Frémont

Major-General USV

John Adams Dix
Nathaniel Prentiss Banks
Benjamin Franklin Butler

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
William Selby Harney
Edwin Vose Sumner
Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
Irvin McDowell
Robert Anderson
William Starke Rosecrans

Brigadier-General USV

Samuel Peter Heintzelman
David Hunter
Erasmus Darwin Keyes
Andrew Porter
Fitz-John Porter
William Buel Franklin
William Tecumseh Sherman
Charles Pomeroy Stone
Don Carlos Buell
Thomas West Sherman
Nathaniel Lyon
John Pope
George Archibald McCall
William Reading Montgomery
Philip Kearny
Joseph Hooker
John Wolcott Phelps
Ulysses Simpson Grant
Joseph Jones Reynolds
Samuel Ryan Curtis
Charles Smith Hamilton
Darius Nash Couch
Rufus King
Jacob Dolson Cox
Stephen Augustus Hurlbut
Franz Sigel
Robert Cumming Schenck
Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss
Frederick West Lander
Benjamin Franklin Kelley
John Alexander McClernand
Alpheus Starkey Williams
Israel Bush Richardson
James Cooper
James Brewerton Ricketts
Orlando Bolivar Willcox
Michael Corcoran

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Montgomery Cunningham Meigs (Quartermaster-General)

Confederate Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

General ACSA

Samuel Cooper
Albert Sidney Johnston
Robert Edward Lee
Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

Major-General PACS

David Emanuel Twiggs
Leonidas Polk

Brigadier-General ACSA

Braxton Bragg

Brigadier-General PACS

Alexander Robert Lawton
Milledge Lake Bonham
Benjamin McCulloch
William Wing Loring
Charles Clark
John Buchanan Floyd
William Henry Talbot Walker
Henry Rootes Jackson
Theophilus Hunter Holmes
Henry Alexander Wise
Earl Van Dorn
William Joseph Hardee
Richard Stoddert Ewell
David Rumph Jones
Benjamin Huger
John Bankhead Magruder
James Longstreet
Edmund Kirby Smith
John Clifford Pemberton
Thomas Jonathan Jackson
Henry Hopkins Sibley
Barnard Elliott Bee
John Henry Winder
Richard Caswell Gatlin
Daniel Smith Donelson
Samuel Read Anderson
Gideon Johnson Pillow
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham
Felix Kirk Zollicoffer
Daniel Harvey Hill
Jones Mitchell Withers
Richard Heron Anderson
Robert Augustus Toombs
Samuel Jones
Arnold Elzey
William Henry Chase Whiting
Jubal Anderson Early

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