The First Battles: April 1861 to February 1862

Bull Run

What was the critical point of the battle?

There were, in fact, several. At several different moments, the Confederates could have been pushed out of their defensive position and into a full-scale rout. Most of the heroes, the men who performed above and beyond the call of duty, are anonymous to us, but the single best-known case is that of Colonel Thomas Jonathan Jackson: it was here that he gained his famous nickname.

At around 2 P.M., the Federals were pressing hard against the Confederates on Henry Hill, the center part of their position. General Barnard Bee rode up the hill to its crown to find Colonel Jackson and his regiment of Virginians waiting orders. General Bee expressed great concern, saying that some of his men had run out of ammunition. Jackson, typically, replied: “Well then, we’ll give them the bayonet.” Encouraged, General Bee rode back to his own position and rallied his own men with these words: “Look yonder, there is Jackson and his Virginians, standing like a stone wall!”


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