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Hard Lessons: The Bloody Battle of First Manassas

Evening Program

Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1H0438
Sudley Church at Bull Run, Virginia, March 1862

The first large-scale clash of the Civil War near Manassas, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, was fought by two armies of largely untrained volunteers and inexperienced officers. It ended with nearly a thousand soldiers dead and many more wounded. And it was a rude awakening for people who were anticipating a short and bloodless war.

The confused day of fighting ended with the Union troops in disorganized retreat, which the Southern press quickly dubbed “The Great Skedaddle.” First Manassas (also known as Bull Run) was a sobering glimpse of the long and bloody slog that lay ahead.

Christopher Hamner, an associate professor of history at George Mason University examines the battle from several perspectives: each side’s strategic and political goals;  the folly of sending inexperienced troops and commanders into combat; the tension between civilian and military leaders; and the impact First Manassas had on expectations and strategic goals as the Civil War began in earnest.

Afterward, educator Al Gaspar presents a miniature war-game battlefield created to depict the Battle of First Manassas.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)