First Battle of Bull Run Facts, Details, and Timeline

July 21, 1861

Facts about the First Battle of Bull Run, including dates, casualties, participants, who won, and more interesting details you might not know. This fact sheet provides a quick overview of the battle and is for kids doing research and students preparing for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.

Irvin McDowell, Portrait

Brigadier General Irvin McDowell commanded Union forces during the First Battle of Bull Run. Image Source: National Archives.

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Definition

The First Battle of Bull Run was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America on July 21, 1861, during the American Civil War.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: The battle is also called the “First Battle of Manassas.”
  • Date Started: The battle started on Sunday, July 21, 1861.
  • Date Ended: The fighting ended on July 21, 1861.
  • Location: The battle took place in Fairfax County And Prince William County, Virginia.
  • Civil War Campaign: The First Battle of Bull Run was part of the Manassas Campaign of 1861.
  • Who Won: The Confederate States of America won the First Battle of Bull Run.

First Battle of Bull Run, Illustration

Illustration of the First Battle of Bull Run by Kurz & Allison. Image Source: Library of Congress.

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Interesting Facts

  • For the first time, trains were used to transport soldiers to a battlefield when Stonewall Jackson’s brigade was transported from the Shenandoah Valley to reinforce the Confederate line at Manassas.
  • It was the first battle where signal flags were used for long-range communication.
  • Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson earned his nickname, “Stonewall” at the First Battle of Bull Run when his brigade of Virginia volunteers stood their ground in the face of a strong Union attack.
  • The battle has two names because the Federals frequently named battles for creeks or rivers that played a role in the fighting, while Confederates used the names of nearby towns or cities.
  • 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.
  • Mrs. Judith Henry (killed) and her African-American maidservant (wounded) became the first civilian casualties of the American Civil War during the First Battle of Bull Run.

Important Details

  • Confederate President Jefferson Davis promoted Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard to the rank of full general the day after the First Battle of Bull Run.
  • Irvin McDowell’s Union Army of Northeastern Virginia was the largest army ever assembled on the North American continent up to that date.
  • Northerners blamed Brigadier General Irvin McDowell for the Union defeat and he was soon replaced by Major General George B. McClellan, who was named general-in-chief of all Union armies.
  • 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.

Commanders and Forces Involved

Principal Union Generals

Principal Confederate Generals

Union Forces Engaged

  • The Union forces at the First Battle of Bull Run were from the Military District of Northeastern Virginia.
  • Later on, the forces would be unofficially designated as the Army of Northeastern Virginia (USA).
  • After the First Battle of Bull Run, the Army of Northeastern Virginia formed the nucleus of the Union Army of the Potomac.

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Army of the Potomac and Army of the Shenandoah

Casualties and Statistics

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 28,450

Estimated Union Casualties

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

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

    • Roughly 32,230

Estimated Confederate Casualties

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

Results of the First Battle of Bull Run

  • The outcome of the First Battle of Bull Run was a Confederate victory.
  • The Union defeat shocked many people, including Northern politicians, who believed the conflict would be short-lived.
  • The Confederate victory provided the Southern forces with confidence they could hold their own with the Northern army.

Timeline of the First Battle of Bull Run

This list shows the main battles and events that took place before and after the First Battle of Bull Run, and how it fits into the chronological order of the Manassas Campaign.

  • November 6, 1860Abraham Lincon was elected 16th President of the United States.
  • December 20, 1860 — South Carolina seceded from the Union.
  • February 8, 1861 — States that seceded from the Union formed the Confederate States of America.
  • April 12–13, 1861 — Civil War began with the Battle of Fort Sumter.
  • July 20, 1861 — Union troops under the command of Irvin McDowell moved toward the Confederate army.
  • July 21, 1861 — The First Battle of Bull Run took place.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title First Battle of Bull Run Facts, Details, and Timeline
  • Coverage July 21, 1861
  • Author
  • Keywords First Battle of Bull Run, Manassas Campaign, Civil War, Civil War Facts for Kids, Social Studies Resources, APUSH Study Material
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date December 2, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update September 21, 2022

First Battle of Bull Run Facts, Details, and Timeline is Part of the Following on AHC

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