FIRST BULL RUN
AS this essay is concerned with strategy it is not necessary to consider the tactics in full detail. The battle fought on July 21st is known as First Bull Run because a second one was fought on the same ground next year. In the South it is generally known as First Manassas.
McDowell left Washington on the afternoon of July 16th. It was only about thirty miles to Bull Run, but the weather was oppressively hot, the men straggled badly, and it was not till the evening of the 20th that they were formed up, ready for attack on the next day.
For some time the Confederates had been expecting his advance and admirable plans had been prepared to meet it. Johnston was to leave a skeleton force under Stuart to keep Patterson amused, while his main body slipped away: by forced marching (twenty-six miles) they were to reach Piedmont, on the railway: there the infantry was to take train to Manassas Junction, thus avoiding thirty miles by road and gaining at least two days.
It speaks well for the secrecy of the Federal plans that no definite information about the advance leaked out until McDowell was actually on the road. It was only at 1 a.m. on the 18th that Johnston heard of it; he moved at once; the infantry reached Piedmont on the 19th and began to entrain. But it had been impossible to collect enough rolling stock to carry them all, so by the 20th only three brigades ( Bee, Bartow, and Jackson), together with the cavalry and artillery, had joined Beauregard. Kirby Smith's brigade did not arrive till the afternoon of the 21st -- the day of the battle.