Sunday, July 24

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, July 24

First Bull Run's fallout

The Confederate victory in northern Virginia triggered the somber realization on both sides that war could possibly drag on far longer and be far more bloody than imagined. Shock fell on the North at the federal defeat. At the time, it was the largest and bloodiest battle of the young conflict. An Associated Press account from Washington said the rout of federal forces "excited the deepest melancholy through Washington. The carnage was tremendously heavy on both sides." The AP's correspondent wrote of the battle that Union troops were driving toward Manassas Junction, Va., when a Confederate countercharge commenced, driving federal forces back in full-scale retreat to Washington. "The panic was so fearful that the whole Army became demoralized," it added. The AP also reported "the most intense excitement" in Washington followed combat as the wounded and dead streamed back aboard wagons and some even briefly feared that the Confederates might even attack Washington. "The greatest alarm exists throughout the city, especially among the female portion of the population," the AP dispatch said. Immediately there came a shakeup of the Union military command. On July 25, President Abraham Lincoln and his administration named Gen. George B. McClellan, at the helm of the Union armies after another commander was largely blamed for the federal defeat at Bull Run.

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