Black and white photo of Irvin McDowell.

Brigadier General Irvin McDowell commanded Union forces during the First Battle of Bull Run. [National Archives]

Bull Run, First Battle of Facts

July 21, 1861

Key facts about the First Battle of Bull Run.

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Date and Location

  • July 21, 1861
  • Fairfax County And Prince William County, Virginia

Campaign

  • Manassas

Principal Union Commanders

  • Brigadier General Irvin McDowell

Principal Confederate Commanders

  • Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston
  • Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard

Union Forces Engaged

  • Forces from the Military District of Northeastern Virginia (later unofficially known as the Army of Northeastern Virginia)

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Army of the Potomac and Army of the Shenandoah

Number of Union Forces Engaged

  • Roughly 28,450

Number of Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Roughly 32,230

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 2,896 (460 killed; 1,124 wounded; and 1,312 captured/missing)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 1,982 (387 killed; 1,582 wounded; and 13 missing)

Result

  • Confederate victory.

Significance

  • The Union forces at the First Battle of Bull Run from Military District of Northeastern Virginia were later unofficially designated as the Army of Northeastern Virginia.
  • After the First Battle of Bull Run, the Army of Northeastern Virginia formed the nucleus of the Union Army of the Potomac.
  • Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson acquired the nickname “Stonewall” during the First Battle of Bull Run.
  • In 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia fought another battle known as the Second Battle of Bull Run on basically the same ground as the First Battle of Bull Run.
  • Combined casualties at the First Battle of Bull Run totaled nearly 5,000 (killed, wounded, and captured or missing).
  • Nearly 850 Americans (460 Union plus 387 Confederate) perished at the First Battle of Bull Run.
  • Although the First Battle of Bull Run was the deadliest conflict of the Civil War at the time it took place, it was not among the thirty bloodiest battles of the war (it was number 32).
  • Civil War lore perpetuates the myth that throngs of civilians from Washington, including some noted politicians, who ventured out to witness the fighting as they picnicked, impeded the Federal retreat at the First Battle of Bull Run.
  • The First Battle of Bull Run marked the first use of signal flags for long-range communication during the Civil War.
  • The First Battle of Bull Run marked the first time in history that trains were used to transport soldiers to a battlefield.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Bull Run, First Battle of Facts
  • Coverage July 21, 1861
  • Author
  • Keywords bull run, manassas
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 1, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 7, 2021
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