Have you ever seen a Civil War re-enactment? Chances are, even if you haven't seen one in your hometown, you may have seen one on TV. One of the most re-enacted events was an event known as the Battle of Bull Run, an event that recently has reached its 150th anniversary. Depending upon what side you were on, you might have a different name for the battle. The Union called the event The Battle of Bull Run. The Confederacy called the event Manassas. Before describing the events of this battle, it's important to quickly review who was fighting and why.
The Union was largely made up of the Northern states. This was the group of individuals who were aligning themselves on the side of the federal government of the United States, which at this point was not quite 100 years old. Union states included:
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
- New York
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
Some of these states - Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Delaware, and West Virginia - were border states. This meant that the states were made up of some Union fighters, but they also had fighters on the side of the Confederacy. Union states often had factories and were less dependent upon agriculture than their Confederate opponents.
Confederacy - The Confederacy was a group of states who set up an autonomous (independent) government. They were states that wanted to maintain slavery, and they were largely dependent upon agriculture. Those living in these states often had large plantations. A plantation is a large farm with a house - plantation owners, known as "planters," would have many slaves who would then tend to the plantation and fields - without any pay. The Confederate states were angry about the desire of the North to eradicate slavery, and thus seceded (broke off) from the Union in order to form their own government. The seceding states included:
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
Of course the border states had some members of the Confederacy as part of their population, and some other regions and territories (Not all 50 states were part of the United States at the time) had joined the South's fight.
While the Civil War began at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 (before Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina seceded), the Battle of Bull Run went down in history as the first major battle of the war, and those fighting it realized that it was going to be a bloody, bloody battle.