HIST Short Paper

Topics: First Battle of Bull Run, American Civil War, Irvin McDowell Pages: 6 (1159 words) Published: December 28, 2014


Derrick Devon Worsley
HIST101 – American History to 1877
Sarah Hyde
March 3, 2011 Battle of Bull Run
       In my opinion the Civil War is one of the most important events in American history. I’m specifically interested in the Battle of Bull Run. I first became interested when I attended a history seminar discussing the topic. Battle of Bull Run was the first major battle of the Civil War fought in Virginia, near the Manassas, Virginia railway junction. I actually travel and live in this area. The Armies in this first battle were not very large by later Civil War standards. The Federal forces under Brigadier General Irvin McDowell were organized into four divisions of about 30,000 men. These divisions were commanded by Tyler, Hunter, Heintzelman, and Miles. The Confederate command structure was somewhat more unwieldy, including two "armies", with no division structure and thirteen independent brigades under Bonham, Ewell, Jones, Longstreet, Cocke, Early, Holmes, Kershaw, Evans, Jackson, Bartow, Bee, Smith, and a cavalry brigade under Stuart. The Confederate Army of the Potomac was under the command of Brigadier General Pierre G. T. Beauregard, and the Army of the Shenandoah was commanded by Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston. These two forces would equal McDowell's strength.        Interestingly enough, each commander had planned to initiate an attack on the other side with a feint attack on the enemy's right flank and a massed attack on the opposite flank. Had this been done simultaneously, and both been successful in their purpose, the two armies would have simply pivoted around each other and ended up in each other's rear, able to continue unopposed to Washington or Richmond, as the case may be. As it turned out, the general least successful in initiating this movement was the winner.        McDowell had planned to use Tyler's division as the diversionary attack at the Stone Bridge, while Davies' brigade did the same at Blackburn's Ford. At the same time, Hunter's and Heintzelman's divisions would cross Bull Run at Sudley Springs and attack from the north.        McDowell's green troops involved in the flanking column, reached their jumping off positions two and a half hours behind schedule. Tyler's and Davies' attacks at the Stone Bridge and Blackburn's Ford were already well under way, and the Confederate high command was beginning to sense a ruse because the Union attacks were not pressed very hard. When Beauregard was notified that Federal troops were massing on his left flank, he realized that this must be the main attack so began to shift his own troop dispositions.        The Federals had about 18,000 men in the main attack column and it was only thanks to the quick reactions of Colonel "Shank" Evans and his small brigade that Beauregard did not suffer a major disaster. He quickly moved his small force to Matthew's Hill to block the Federal move. Sounds of the fighting drew other brigade commanders to Evans' aid on their own initiative. Brigadier General Barnard Bee and Colonel Bartow joined Evans' defensive line and deployed their men to his right to extend and strengthen it.        The Confederate position was still badly outnumbered however, and eventually the weight of those numbers began to be felt. With Tyler's division threatening the right flank and rear of the Confederate position after having forced a crossing at the Stone Bridge, and their left flank now being overlapped by Federal reinforcements, the three Confederate brigades broke to the rear, heading toward the cleared plateau of the Henry House Hill. Unfortunately for the Federals, they were slow to follow-up their success and allowed the Southern brigade commanders to rally the remnants of their units behind Jackson's brigade which had just arrived and formed a line of battle on the reverse slope of Henry House Hill.        In the meantime,...

Bibliography: of the Civil War. 4 vols, 1987.
A listing of books published on Union and Confederate regiments, and
personal narratives. 1987 is the latest update. An ideal way to track down
the wartime experiences of a relative whose unit is known
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