Monday, July 18, 2011

Find The Flank

The Battle of Blackburn’s Ford, fought on July 18th 1861, was the opening of the Manassas Campaign.

Union Brigadier General Irvin McDowell marched with 35,000 troop from Washington, DC on July 16th 1861. He was moving on the Confederates concentrating near the railroad junction at Manassas. They arrived at Fairfax Court House on July 17th 1861 and looked for a place to cross the Bull Run Creek where they could flank the Confederates. The 22,000 men under the command of Confederate Brigadier General PGT Beauregard anticipated the Union movement and guarded the fords on Bull Run.

McDowell ordered Union Brigadier General Daniel Tyler on July 18th 1861 to find the Confederate left flank. Tyler moved to Centreville which he found unoccupied. In the late morning he reached Blackburn’s Ford, and looking across the stream thought the road was clear to Manassas Junction. But Confederate Brigadier General James Longstreet was hid in the wood just beyond the Ford. Tyler ordered Union Colonel Israel B Richardson to move forward. Richardson ran into resistance from the 1st, 11th and 17th Virginia Infantry. Tyler then ordered artillery and cavalry forward. Unfortunately the 12th New York Infantry began to retreat, which caused panic to spread through out the Union line. At about this same time Confederate Colonel Jubal A Early arrived on the field, which sealed the Confederate victory.

The Union failure at Blackburn’s Ford caused McDowell to decide not to make a frontal assault on Bull Run, he instead tried to cross the stream beyond the left flank of the Confederates.

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