The First Battle Bull Run (Manassas Junction)

Contributed by: Andy Clark (

I`ve written a FnF scenario for 1st Bull Run. Will post it if it is of any use.

Andy Clark
Devon, England

The First Battle Bull Run (Manassas Junction)
21th July 1861

A Scenario For Fire & Fury


This battle fits nicely on a 6 foot by 4 foot table and is very well suited to the popular Fire and Fury rules for which the scenario was written. The most colourful units of the war were present at this battle before the soldiers realised that drab colours were more practical. On the Union side these include in Sherman`s brigade -79th New York (Highlanders); Wilcox`s brigade - 11th New York (Fire Zouaves) and a battalion of U.S. Marines in Porter`s brigade.

On the Confederate side Evan`s command had the Louisiana Tigers; the 33rd Virginia in Jackson`s brigade whose blue uniforms helped them decimate two Union batteries and Stuart`s flamboyant `Black Horse` cavalry. Remember this battle was fought before the famous southern cross battle flag was in use.

The Battle

In this the first battle of the American Civil War, Major-General Irvin McDowell`s Union army marched west from Washington to Centreville (20 miles in 2 1/2 days indicates the rawness of this volunteer army) to put a swift end to the Southern rebellion. From Centreville to Bull Run was a march of 4 miles. On the opposite bank of Bull Run (which at this point was a sizeable river) Brigadier - General Beauregard`s equally untried Confederate Army of the Potomac waited.

On the 21st of June the Union army headed west. Tyler`s 3rd Division had orders to make diversionary attacks at, and to the south of, the Stone Bridge. The 2nd Division (Hunter) and the 3rd Division (Heintzelman) then veered to the right and marched two miles north before coming in on the Confederate left flank. The 4th Division (Runyon) was held at Centreville as a reserve.

Another Confederate army, The Army of the Shenandoah, was believed by McDowell to be occupied in the Shenandoah Valley by an 18,000 strong Union force under an aged, listless general named Patterson. This 12,000 strong Confederate army had slipped away though and most of it was already along the banks of Bull Run. Johnson`s fourth, and last brigade under the command of Kirby Smith was on a train fast approaching the battlefield.

The battle began at 6:30 near the Stone Bridge as Tyler`s skirmishers and artillery attacked Evans` small brigade which included the Louisiana Tigers. Tyler did not press the attack and two hours later they still were not across the bridge. By now the flanking column led by Burnside`s brigade was approaching from Sudley. Evans, alerted by field telegraph, left a few companies to guard the bridge and rushed off to Matthews` Hill to meet this threat. At 10:00 Burnside began to press forward. It was now that Hunter was wounded and replaced by Porter. Evans` small force put up a tremendous defence and could not be dislodged. The Union forces began to grow in size and inevitably Evans would soon be overwhelmed. He appealed for help to Bee who had taken up a more defensible position on Henry House Hill. Bee reluctantly left this position and went forward onto Matthew`s Hill to support Evans. Union forces continued to grow and as the fire from three Union batteries began to pound the Confederate line two of Tyler`s brigades appeared on their right flank and the Confederates fell back across Young`s Branch in considerable confusion.

Jackson`s brigade had initially been posted along Bull Run but now he was sent along with Hampton to the increasingly ferocious battle being fought on the left flank. It had been Beauregard`s intention to attack with his right wing but by 11:00 he and Johnston realised that the immediate priority was to win the fight now taking place on their left.

At 11:30 Beauregard took command of the fighting while Johnson (reluctantly) rode to the rear to set about rushing all available troops to the new front. In a bloody fire fight near the Robinson House, Hampton`s legion repelled Keyes` brigade which took no further part in the battle. For a while, Hampton`s 600 men and Imboden`s battery were the only Confederate units on the Henry House plateau. Soon Jackson arrived and deployed his large brigade along the fringe of the pine wood at the edge of the Henry House plateau.

The famous incident now occurred where Bee explained to Jackson that the Union forces were pushing forward. Jackson said calmly, " Sir, we will give them the bayonet!"

Bee impressed by the resolution displayed by Jackson and his Virginians called out to his troops and those of Bartow and Evans, "There stands Jackson like a Stonewall". This name stuck thereafter to both Jackson and the brigade. Bee made an appeal to the troops to, "rally behind the Virginians". These troops did rally and further bolstered the new defensive line. Cocke`s brigade arrived and on the left of the line Stuart`s cavalry took up a position near Bald Hill.

By 1:00 McDowell had gathered10,000 Union infantry to the north of Henry House Hill. These now began to attack the Confederate positions. Unfortunately the attacks were delivered piecemeal - even one regiment at a time in some cases. Both sides fought valiantly and the fighting raged for 3 hours. The north charging and gaining temporary superiority only to be repelled by a southern countercharge. The Union attacks began to run out of steam by 4:00. At about this time Smith`s brigade (newly arrived by train) and Early`s brigade had marched to the west of the Sudley road and were in a position to fall on the right flank of the Union line. As this attack developed the whole of the Confederate line advanced and the exhausted Union infantry began to melt away.

Soon the whole Union army was in flight towards Washington on the Centreville Road where they became entangled with panic stricken civilians who had travelled from Washington with picnic baskets to watch the Union victory. The Confederate army was too tired and disorganised to be able to pursue. It had been a long, hot day.

The Wargame

The game begins with the Union 9:30 move. All units throughout the battle can make their first move without the need to throw for movement. In order to accommodate the rule that one model represents eight cannon, not all of the batteries present at the battle are represented here. Confederate units may not cross the bridge before 1:00. Victory goes to the side with the most points after the Confederate 4:00 move. In addition to casualty points there are 5 points for controlling the Henry House and the Stone Bridge. This means having a unit on the `enemy` side of the objective that is closer to the objective than any enemy unit.

Union deployment

Union units coming on at A may be moved in any formation within 8 inches either side of the road. Carlisle`s battery may deploy within 6 inches of the bridge but cannot cross it unless Schenck`s brigade does (see special rule).

Confederate deployment

The initial deployments are as on the map. Cocke is awaiting the enemy from the east and may not move until 12:30. Bee and Bartow are heading for Henry House Hill in march column. Evans is deployed on Matthews Hill. There were a few infantry defending the abbatis but too few to make any impact on our scale. Joe Johnson was the senior CSA generalbut in fact Beauregard, for valid reasons acted as C-in-C. Therefore he is represented by a Corps commander stand and Johnson by a Division commander stand - each in the chain of command of all Confederate units.

Union arrivals

10:00McDowell, Heintzelman ,Franklin`s brigade, and Griffin`s battery at A
10:30Wilcox`s brigade
11:00Sherman`s brigade in march column and Ayres` battery at B
11:30Keyes` brigade in march column at B
12:00Howard`s brigade at A

Special rule: - Much to McDowell`s annoyance Tyler never used Schenck`s brigade but it was there to be used. I suggest at the Union 12:00 move a dice is thrown. If 1 or 2 is thrown Schenck`s brigade can move across the bridge. The few Confederate skirmishers there would pose no real opposition and are not represented. At the next Union move 1,2 or 3 would be required . Then 1,2,3, or 4 and so on, thus increasing the chances of Schenck becoming involved as the afternoon wears on. If Schenck`s brigade comes on then dice to see if Tyler appears, 1 - 5 he appears, 6 - 10 he doesn`t.

Confederate arrivals

11:00Hampton`s Legion, Beauregard between C and D
11:30Jackson`s brigade and Pendleton`s battery between C and D
12:00Kemper`s battery between C and D
12:30Stuart`s cavalry between E and F. Cocke`s brigade can be released from it`s defensive position along Bull Run.
1:30Bonham`s brigade between C and D
2:00Johnson between C and D
3:00Smith`s brigade between E and F
3:30Early`s brigade between E and F


All ground is good except within 1 inch either side of Young`s Branch and in the woods . These count as rough ground. Bull Run can only be crossed at the bridge and ford. A unit defending the abattis gets a +1 charge modifier.

Bull Run Map
(Click to see larger map)

Orders of Battle

Union Army

Major - General   I. McDowell  (Corps commander)

1st Division      Brig.-Gen. D.Tyler
1st Brig.(Keyes) 	9/8/5
2ndBrig.(Schenck)     	9/8/5          	Carlisle`s battery
3rdBrig.(Sherman)    	17/14/10 E	Ayres`  battery 

2nd Division     Col.  D.Hunter
1st Brig. (Porter)      16/13/9         Griffin`s battery
2nd Brig.(Burnside)   	12/10/7         Rhode Island battery
Palmer`s Cavalry       	2/-/-

3rd Division     Col.  S.P.Heintzelman 
1st Brig. (Franklin)   	 11/9/6         Rickett`s battery
2nd Brig.(Willcox)     	 11/9/6                 
3rd Brig. (Howard)	 14/12/8


Army of the Potomac      Brig.-Gen. P.G.T.
Beauregard (Corps commander)

1st Brig.(Bonham)     	17/14/10
5th Brig.(Cocke)       	6/13/9
6th Brig.(Early)        13/11/8
Evan`s Brig.(Evans)   	6/5/3	   
Hampton`s Legion      	3/2/-   E
Kemper`s battery

Army of the Shenandoah   Brig.-Gen. J.E. Johnston
(Division commander)

1st Brig.(Jackson)  	14/11/7 E	Pendleton`s battery
2ndBrig.(Bartow)    	5/4/3
3rd Brig.(Bee)      	11/9/6         	Imboden`s  battery
4th Brig.(Smith)    	8/7/5
Stuart`s Cavalry    	2/-/-   E  


Unit Organisations of the ACW
R.J. Zimmerman
Battles and Leaders of the Civil War
Johnson and Buell (eds.)
Lee`s Lieutenants
D.S. Freeman
Great Battles of the ACW
Battles of the ACW
C.Johnson / M.Mclaughlin
First Bull Run
P.Davis / H.J. Cooper
The Stonewall Brigade

Copyright - Andy Clark