On 16 July 1861, the largest army ever assembled on the North American continent up to that time marched from the vicinity of Washington, D.C., toward Manassas Junction, thirty miles to the southwest. Commanded by newly promoted Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, the Union force consisted of partly trained militia with ninety-day enlistments (almost untrained volunteers) and three newly organized battalions of Regulars. Many soldiers, unaccustomed to military discipline or road marches, left the ranks to obtain water, gather blackberries, or simply to rest as the march progressed.
Near Manassas, along a meandering stream known as Bull Run, waited the similarly untrained Confederate army commanded by Brig. Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard. This army would soon be joined by another Confederate force, commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston.
After a minor clash of arms on 18 July, McDowell launched the first major land battle of the Civil War by attempting to turn the Confederate left flank on 21 July. A series of uncoordinated and sometimes confusing attacks and counterattacks by both sides finally ended in a defeat for the Union Army and its withdrawal to Washington.
The Battle of First Bull Run highlighted many of the problems and deficiencies that were typical of the first year of the war. Units were committed piecemeal, attacks were frontal, infantry failed to protect exposed artillery, tactical intelligence was nil, and neither commander was able to employ his whole force effectively. McDowell, with 35,000 men, was only able to commit about 18,000, and the combined Confederate forces, with about 32,000 men, committed only 18,000.
In The Original Iron Brigade, author Thomas Reed discusses the history of the 1st Brigade,1st Division, 1st Corps, Army of the Potomac, composed of three New York two year regiments, the 22nd, 34th, and 30th New York Infantry, the 14th Brooklyn Militia (84th New York Infantry) and the 2nd United States Sharpshooters. The brigade's story begins with the 14th Brooklyn's role during the First Battle of Manassas in 1861 and ends with the disbanding of the brigade in June 1863. Based on original unpublished diaries and letters of the men of the brigade, this book describes how the Original Iron Brigade earned its name by its hard marching during the spring of 1862. The brigade attacked Stonewall Jackson's troops along the unfinished railroad line during the Second Battle of Manassas, stormed Turner's Gap during the Battle of South Mountain, and attacked Stonewall Jackson's men again at the Dunker Church in the Battle of Antietam.
A Single Grand Victory is a highly readable, concise, comprehensive narrative by Ethan S. Rafuse, professor of history at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Rafuse worked as a park ranger at Bull Run, where he gained great familiarity with the site and the literature on this battle. His new book incorporates insights offered in recent scholarship on Civil War military, political, and cultural history.The author describes the factors that led President Abraham Lincoln to order an offensive against Confederates at Manassas Junction at a time when his most prominent military men advised against it. The war policies of both the Union and Confederate sides are explained. Rafuse offers descriptions and analysis of the individuals involved and the circumstances that influenced the manner in which the campaign was conducted. He covers the critical events and operational and tactical decisions that shaped the campaign's course and outcome.
In addition, A Single Grand Victory provides insights into American life in the nineteenth century by examining what motivated men to fight in 1861 and describing what led both North and South to expect the war would be a short one. Southerners had anticipated that one victory like Bull Run would persuade the North to abandon the effort to restore the Union by force. Northerners believed support for the Confederate rebellion was so shallow that one battle would end the war.Civil War buffs will enjoy this
Shrouds of Glory brings the reader into the general's tent, where Grant, Sherman, Lee, and others plot out their often unorthodox strategies for winning the war. At its center is the courageous but reckless Hood, prematurely thrust into the spotlight by a combination of destiny and fate. We witness the unlikely rise of this young Confederate, who graduated 44th out of a class of 52 at West Point, as he overcomes a nearly fatal amputation of his shattered leg and eventually devises a strategy to turn the tide of the war. From the fall of Atlanta, during which Hood assumed command, to the eventual decimation of his troops on the outskirts of Nashville, Groom presents Gen Hood and his nemeses--Union generals Sherman, Schofield, and Thomas--on their bizarre cat-and-mouse chase through Georgia and Tennessee to the horrors of the heroic charge at Franklin, where five Confederate generals died and the great Confederate army of of Tennessee marched into legend.
Weaving eyewitness accounts, journal entries, military communiques, and newspaper headlines with his own straightforward narrative style, Groom constructs a meticulous and atmospheric re-creation of the war— especially the charged battlefields where general and foot soldier alike were thrown into the fray. Groom paints vivid portraits of the major players in the conflict, revealing the character, the faults, the emotions, and most of all the doubts that molded the course of the war.