First Battle of Manassas Historical Marker
This historical marker next to a park bench at the Centreville Public Library marks the location where Union Brigadier General Irvin McDowell gathered his troops on July 18, 1861, just three days before the First Battle of Manassas. McDowell attempted a maneuver from this location to attack Confederate General P. G. T Beauregard and his soldiers. The battle began when Union forces crossed Bull Run on July 21st. The first major battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Manassas or First Battle of Bull Run as it became known among Northerners resulted in a resounding victory for the Confederate army and demonstrated to President Lincoln and many others that the rebellion could only be stopped by a substantial economic and military commitment.
Backstory and Context
This spot shows where Union soldiers gathered and planned their attack on the Confederate encampment in Manassas and how they planned on doing so as well. Both the Confederate and the Union generals had a specific plan of attack for the battle of Manassas, and both sides failed in their objective. Their plans focused on putting pressure on one side of the enemies’ forces in order to overwhelm them and surround them. If both sides had been successful in doing so, they simply would have just turned around facing the opposite direction. Fortunately for the Confederacy, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was able to hold his line and force back the Union lines.
The First Battle of Manassas provided important information to both sides about how the Civil War was going to play out. For the Union, it emphasized the ineptitude of the Generals they would go through and the difficulty they would have in planning and attacking the Confederates. For the Confederacy, it demonstrated how successful they could be by just surviving for as long as they could and defending their own areas. When Lincoln finally finds a General he can trust to lead the Union Army and when the Confederacy stops defending and starts attacking, the Civil War starts to turn, and the Union takes control.
This battle also set the tone for the rest of the Civil War and what either side was so expect from their enemy and the battles they fought. Although the First Battle of Manassas was relatively small compared to other encounters, it still contained heavy casualties for both sides. What was most important about the Battle of Manassas was the fact that the Confederacy won. The entire Union was shocked and stunned to witness such an embarrassment. The Confederacy was ecstatic and confident they could hold out and wait for the Union to give up; although it never happened, Lee and his army had won a major first battle in the Civil War that would keep them motivated for the following years to come.
Johnston, R.M. "The Battle of Bull Run." Civil War Home. February 3, 2002. Accessed June 28, 2018. http://www.civilwarhome.com/1manassas.htm.
"First Battle of Bull Run." History Channel. Accessed June 28, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/first-battle-of-bull-run.