Furgurson, Ernest B. “The Battle of Bull Run: The End of Illusions.” Smithsonian, Smithsonian.com, Aug. 2011, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-battle-of-bull-run-the-end-of-illusions-17525927/.
Despite the stifling summer weather — never mind the prospect of bloody combat — scores of onlookers, with parasols and opera glasses, in carriages and on horseback, flocked from Washington to the fields near Manassas for the first big battle of the Civil War.
Ruane, Michael E. “Battle of Bull Run Provided a Surprising Start to the Bloody Civil War.” The Washington Post, 15 July 2011, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/battle-of-bull-run-provided-a-surprising-start-to-the-bloody-civil-war/2011/06/30/gIQAa7OOGI_story.html?utm_term=.e33dffc7144f.
A Narrative of the Battles of Bull Run and Manassas Junction, July 18th and 21st, 1861. Accounts of the Advance of Both Armies, the Battles, and the Defeat and Rout of the Enemy. Compiled Chiefly from the Detailed Reports of the Virginia and South Carolina Press. Charleston, Press Of Evans & Cogswell, 1861, http://www.archive.org/stream/narrativeofbattl00char#mode/2up.
Johnston, Joseph E., and G. T. Beauregard. Official Reports of Generals Johnson [Sic] and Beauregard of the Battle of Manassas, July 21st, 1861. Richmond: Tyler, Wise, Allegre And Smith, Prs, 1862, pp. 3–45, http://www.archive.org/stream/officialreport00conf#page/n5/mode/2up.
An address by Edwin S. Barrett, delivered in the Town Hall, Concord, Mass., July 21st, 1886, on the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run, at the re-union of the veterans of Co. G (Concord artillery), Fifth regiment.
The fire has been light, and American history will change forever. Union and Confederate troops converge at Manassas Junction (aka Bull Run) and what should have been an easy victory for the Union turns into a rout by the Confederates.
Johnson, Justin. “The Fire Is Light... Battle of Manassas / Bull Run.” American Military History Podcast, 1 Mar. 2018, http://americanmilitaryhistorypodcast.com/the-fire-is-light-battle-of-manassas-bull-run-cw-pt-4/.
Leading up to the First Battle of Bull Run, Joseph E. Johnston takes command of the Army of the Shenandoah, and Robert Patterson counters with the Army of Pennsylvania. Patterson’s objective is to prevent Johnston from joining Pierre Beauregard at Manassas Junction.
Three days before the major battle, regiments from the Army of Northeastern Virginia, under the command of Irvin McDowell, and the Army of the Potomac, under Pierre Beauregard, face off on the southeastern point of the Manassas battle site, resulting in a minor Confederate victory.
The morning hours of the First Battle of Bull Run concentrated on Matthews Hill, where the outflanked Confederates tried desperately to hold their ground, only to be driven back by the superior numbers of the Army of Northeastern Virginia. With Matthews Hill occupied by the Union by the afternoon, the battle looked won, but the Confederate forces were taking a new position on Henry Hill, where they would rally in the afternoon.
Leading the stand on Henry Hill was Thomas Jackson, where he would earn his nickname “Stonewall.” To drive Jackson off the hill, McDowell orders a Napoleon-esque artillery charge, resulting in the bloodiest fighting of the day, as the newly-rifled weaponry renders the artillery charge ineffective, and both armies fight for control of the canons.
With new Confederate troops arriving throughout the afternoon, McDowell takes one last stand at Chinn Ridge, only to have fresh Confederate arrivals from the Army of the Shenandoah drive back his last brigade.
The Union defeat at Bull Run changed the perspective on the war for everybody in the North. The confidence in a decisive war that would be won with a single battle was shattered. Northern presses spread fabricated stories of rebel barbarity, and Union politicians look for people to blame. In the South, there were no celebrations for the costly victory.