The Battle of First Manassas (First Bull Run)
“There stands Jackson like a stone wall.”
– Gen. Barnard Bee
First Manassas Battlefield
The Henry Hill Visitor Center is where everyone should start their visit of the Manassas Battlefields. There is a small $3.00 entrance fee to visit all the locations and the ticket is valid for three days. I found the small museum inside along with the one hour video to be very beneficial to get me into the right mindset before my tour of the actual battlefield. The video starts every hour on the hour and it is a very well made and informative learning experience. Keep your receipt because you may be asked for it when you visit other locations, like Brawner Farm (discussed on the Second Manassas post).
Some Key Players
Federal commander: General Irvin McDowell
Confederate commander: General P.G.T. Beauregard
Confederate General General Thomas J. Jackson
Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston
On July 21, 1861 both the Union and Confederate armies fought for the first time on the fields of Bull Run. Many soldiers and civilians thought the battle would be a quick affair. In fact, many thought that the war would also be short and could possibly be over by the end of the battle. Both sides soon learned that the American Civil War would not be over quickly.
Only July 16, 1861 McDowell’s army of 35,000 strong marched out of Washington, D.C. on a mission to capture the Confederate capital city of Richmond. The Federals were sure that capturing Richmond would end the war.
On July 21, 1861 the Federal commander, General Irvin McDowell sent attack columns north of the Confederate position to Sudley Springs Ford. This movement put the Federal force on the Confederate left flank.* McDowell needed to distract the Confederate force so he ordered a diversionary attack where the Warrenton Turnpike crossed Bull Run at the Stone Bridge.* At 5:30 a.m. began the diversionary attack at the stone bridge. The battle had begun.
*Correction from a name on the video. General Thomas J. Jackson.
James Brewerton Ricketts was commanding the Battery I, 1st U.S. when he was wounded and captured by Confederate infantry that over ran his position on Henry Hill. Ricketts was shot four times, but recovered from his wounds. He was later released in a prisoner exchange. *
This is where the home of James Robinson once stood. Robinson was of mixed racial parentage and was a free man. During the battle of First Manassas, Robinson submitted a claim for $2,608.00 worth of damages due to the battle. Only $1,249.00 was reimbursed to Robinson and his family.*
The Manassas National Battlefield Park is open daily during daylight hours except on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. As mentioned earlier, a park entrance fee of $3.00 is required to enter the park and is valid for three days. The Henry Hill Visitor Center provides maps, an orientation film, and a museum exhibit. There is a also a neat gift shop.
Manassas National Battlefield Park/6511 Sudley Road/Manassas, VA 20109/703-361-1339
*Information for this post was obtained from data gathered from the Henry Hill Visitor Center, online resources, and academic studies.
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