Saturday, July 21, 2007
Today we feature a photograph of a stone house. The house sits at the corner of the Manassas/Sudley Road and the Warrenton Turnpike in Virginia. The photograph was taken in 1861. On this date (July 21st) in 1861, this house was the central point of the first major battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run. At this point in time, Northerners were confident that the war would be over in a matter of a few weeks. When the upper crust of Washington DC and Maryland heard that the two armies were approaching each other in this area, they all turned out to watch the battle, expecting to see the Rebels get routed. Women brought picnics, and carousels, and people rode out in fancy buggies. Unseasoned Union Army troops under General Irvin McDowell advanced against the Confederate Army under Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard. The Union army appeared to be gaining the advantage early in the battle, as the Confederate line appeared to begin to crumble. As it began to look hopeless for the Confederates, one brigade from Virginia stood firm, under the command of General Thomas J. Jackson. Confederate units in retreat noticed General Jackson's Brigade standing firm near the stone house pictured above, and someone commented, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall". Jackson's stand encouraged the Rebels, who reversed their retreat, and attacked. This set the Union army into a panic. The entire union army was routed, and the soldiers began a paniced run back to Washington DC. All the elite of Washington that had turned out to watch the battle were caught up in the middle of the action, as the Union army scattered. Several carriages were hit by Rebel shells, and many overturned in the panic of the retreat.