July 21 - 1861 - The First Battle of Bull Run
When the Civil War broke out, both sides believed the war would be short, as actual fighting would make the other side give up. The Union felt they were too superior in numbers and resources; the Confederacy felt they had more fighting spirit and nerve. Despite that, real battles featuring large armies took months to happen. Some three months after Fort Sumter, the Union Army under General Irvin McDowell marched from Washington, D.C. to the Confederate capital of Richmond. At a small crossroads called Mannassas Junction and along Bull Run Creek, McDowell's men were met by a Confederate force under General P.G.T. Beauregard. The entire battle was a mess. The Union had an early advantage, which seemed to resolve by midday to an easy Northern victory. Instead, led by General Thomas J. Jackson, a part of the Confederate middle held firm. When they pushed back, the Union troops went into a massive retreat. Both sides were shocked by the casualties in the battle, although it would be a small amount by later standards in the War. What Bull Run really did was make both sides prepare for a larger war.