Also known as the First Battle of Manassas
In July 1861, the 90 day enlistments of soldiers in the Union regiments were about to run out and President Lincoln urged Union General Irwin McDowell to engage the Confederate Army, commanded in the field by General Beauregard. On July 18, 1861, McDowell and the 37,000 soldiers of the Army of the Potomac marched into Virginia. Many civilians, including Congressmen, rode out to see the destruction of the Confederate Army.
The two armies met at Bull Run creek near Manassas Junction, Virginia on July 21st just after 9 A.M. Uniform colors were not yet consistent with some Union regiments wearing grey and some Confederate units in blue. Both armies were untried but shared the belief that this battle would end with their side victorious and that the War would end within months.
Fighting went back and forth throughout the day. Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson’s Virginia brigade firmly held the high ground in the middle of the line. General Bernard Bee rallied his Confederate troops by saying: “Look, there is Jackson with his Virginians, standing like a stonewall!”, and General Thomas Jackson became immortalized as “Stonewall” Jackson. Confederate reinforcements arrived late in the afternoon and General Beauregard ordered a massive counterattack at 4 P.M. The Confederates attacked “yelling like furies” at Jackson’s urging and the rebel yell was first heard on a Civil War battlefield. The Union line broke and most regiments ran to the rear in disarray. Combined casualties of both armies killed, wounded and missing was about 4,500.
The Connecticut Brigade consisting of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiments Connecticut Volunteer Infantry were engaged from 10 A.M. when they met and repelled a body of infantry and cavalry. They were in action until 4 P.M. and retired from the field in good order. Lucius D. Wilson, the first Mansfield soldier to enlist, was in Co. B of the 1st Connecticut and Willard R. Moulton of Co. D of the 3rd Connecticut was captured at the Battle of Bull Run.