The 150th of First Bull Run (First Manassas for the southern leaning) was this past weekend in Virginia. There were several notable things about this battle, primary of which was the haphazard nature of the fighting. There was the give and take of normal combat, small victories and defeats as brigades on both sides took their objectives or were driven back.
The sudden reversal and precipitous route of Union general McDowell’s forces meant that the rebellion was not to be defeated so easily and the union was to remain divided for some time. These were armies lead by professional soldiers but manned by ninety day volunteers who by the time McDowell marched on Centerville, VA many were ready to go home.
I have been to this battlefield. There were two battles fought here, a year apart and the contrast can’t be more striking when you take in the ground covered by the first battle and then view landmarks from the second. The armies who fought the second battle were almost twice the size and more ably lead, having had a year’s worth of campaigning under their belts and the amateurs weeded out (though some would argue with that statement given some of the union leadership still at this time).
Bull Run proved that the confederacy was an organized force that would not be defeated in one grand battle and that the north would not give up in its desire to reunite the states and defeat the confederacy.