First Battle of Bull RunThe First Battle of Bull Run, also referred to as the First Battle of Manassas, (July 21, 1861) was the first major land battle of the American Civil War. (The difference in the two names results from the difference in naming conventions used by each side in the war. Confederates named battles for the nearest town or city; the Union named battles for the nearest river or body of water.)
The battle, led brigadier-general Irvin McDowell, was fought near the railroad junction near Manassas, Virginia. It resulted in a humiliating rout of Union forces and a disorderly retreat, bringing the battle to a halt. The elite of nearby Washington, DC, expecting an easy Union victory, had come out to watch the battle and picnic. When the Union Army was driven back, the roads back to Washington were blocked by panicked civilians attempting to flee in their carriages.
The victorious Confederate forces were too exhausted to follow through with a pursuit of the enemy. Casualties totaled approximately 5,000 -- 3,000 Union troops and 2,000 Confederates.
See also: Second Battle of Bull Run