Battle scene – flames in right background through which rider and horse race. Two men in blue uniform on their horses at center, two lying on ground forefront, one with sword raised at right.
On July 21, 1861, two armies of a divided nation clashed on the fields overlooking Bull Run, near Manassas, Virginia. Although Federal troops were not fully prepared for battle, public demand pushed Union officers to advance upon Confederate troops. Initially the Union assault was successful. However, when Confederate reinforcements arrived, the rebel line broke the Federal right flank and forced the troops to retreat to Washington. Soldiers on both sides were stunned by the violence and destruction they encountered. At day’s end, after 10 hours of fighting, nearly 900 young men had been killed in the battle. It became obvious to officials that the war’s outcome would not be decided quickly. Although the Battle of Bull Run was a Confederate victory, Currier & Ives portrayed it as a win for the North because it was important to capture the Union market. This practice was common during the Civil War and many battle prints were not factual.