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Author Topic: THE DANCE BEGINS: THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN, 1861  (Read 69 times)
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« on: July 21, 2017, 11:59:08 am »

With secession an unpleasant fact [several late seceding states like Virginia only leaving when Lincoln called for volunteers to crush the South], both sides scrambled to solve the problem of 'what to do? And the solution, for both sides, was to prepare militarily.

Lincoln got his volunteers. But they were novices to military culture. Additionally, the U.S Army didn't spread the regulars throughout the volunteer formations to leaven them, and lead them. Almost all active duty officers, NCOs and enlisted men, stayed in regular army units. The volunteers were sometimes led by former soldiers [Grant, Sherman], but were more likely led by politicians, or local worthies and men of property. In any case they had to be armed, uniformed, organized and trained. and the training was of short duration [most enlisted for 90 days], and woefully inadequate.

Things weren't much better in the south. They DID have a higher proportion of professional officers that volunteered for service with the confederacy [Lee, Johnson, Johnston, Beauregard, Stuart], and former officers [Jackson]. More of their troops were used to 'roughing it' more than their Union counterparts. But the South had no real military production capacity, a more limited infrastructure [think railroads], and a much shallower manpower pool [one reason the South resorted to conscription earlier than the Union].

Thus, for both disparate  and similar reasons, both sides sought an early confrontation, believing that the rebellion would be decided in one fell swoop [something like the Japanese dogmatic belief in the 'decisive naval battle' in WW II]. Interestingly, the early confrontation was not favored by the military professionals. But with Lincoln prodding, pushing and demanding, in July, 1861, what would eventually be the Army of the Potomac advanced south into Virginia under the command of BG Irwin McDowell.

The plan was overly complex, the troops woefully inadequate. But with 30,000 men, and a bit of luck, McDowell thought he could bring it off. He had the men, but not the luck.

20,000 rebel troops under GEN P.G.T. Beauregard awaited McDowell near Manassas, behind a creek called Bull Run. Beauregard knew McDowell was coming. He had been tipped by a Confederate spy ring in Washington led by Rose Greenhow. Up in the Shenandoah Valley, GEN Joseph Johnson also knew of McDowell's movement, and began transferring some 9,000 additional troops, by rail, to Manassas. So McDowell would find a Confederate force almost equal to his own on the battlefield.

To compound that problem McDowell's plan called for a pincer movement by 'green' troops  to complete a double envelopment of the Rebels.

Almost the entire battle was fought on McDowell's right [Beauregard's left] wing. At firs the Union troops drove the Confederates back after crossing Bull Run. But then they ran into a fortified position on high ground, held by the soon to be nicknamed "Stonewall" Jackson's brigade. The Union advance was stopped cold. At the same area, Jackson's cavalry, commanded by COL JEB Stuart, launched a vicious charge. Stuart captured the Union artillery, while Johnson's troops flanked the Union right. When the Union troops broke [the Union left did almost nothing during the battle], Stuart turned what might have been a retreat into a rout, driving the Union forces back over the Potomac. Fleeing with them were various civilians and politicians who had come to see the battle.

It was a Union catastrophe. McDowell lost around 2,000 men. Such losses had never been seen in America before. Aside from defending Washington, D.C from the rebels, the Union Army was incapable of any meaningful action.

Were there bright spots? Yes. William T. Sherman had covered a portion of the retreat/rout with his brigade, and done a masterful job. a young Lieutenant of Cavalry, one George Armstrong Custer had performed credibly. But McDowell had to go [he never commanded troops in the field again, exiled to San Francisco], establishing the tradition of revolving commanders that would bedevil the Army of the Potomac until just before Gettysburg and the ascension of MG George Gordon Meade.

And the Confederates? Bull Run was the first appearance on the stage of the Civil War of Joseph E. Johnson, Stonewall Jackson and JEB Stuart [Beauregard had debuted at Ft. Sumter, Lee was waiting in the wings]. Yet Beauregard was in disgrace with Jefferson Davis by 1863, and Johnson off and on by 1864. And Jackson was dead in 1863, and Stuart in 1864. And despite its initial poor showing at Bull Run, the Army of the Potomac, and the Union Army in general, would defeat the Confederacy in 1865.

You can get more with a smile, a handshake and a gun than you can with a smile and a handshake - Al Capone
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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2017, 11:49:19 am »

George Soros may very well be orchestrating the next civil war, by exasperating race relations, condemning the police, and general anarchy, etc.  The enemies of the state keep growing and committing criminal acts that do not lead to indictments.  How many innocent people must die because of truly despicable people like Soros?
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