The first major battle–the Battle of Bull Run (known as the Battle of Manassas in the South)–changed all of that on July 21, 1861. It became obvious that the war would be long and brutal in the wake of nearly 3,000 Northern casualties and almost 2,000 Southern casualties, as the Union suffered a humiliating defeat at Bull Run.
My wife and I visited the site of the Battle of Bull Run this week, for the battle is the backdrop to the first chapters of my new novel, The Lincoln League. Before this bloody battle, the war was taken so lightly that citizens from Washington rode out in carriages to picnic and watch the two armies clash–like spectators at a baseball game. By the time the day was over, terrified citizen spectators were retreating back to Washington alongside the defeated Union soldiers.
It goes without saying that after the Battle of Bull Run, Senator James Chestnut never followed up on his boast.
By Doug Peterson