July 1861

Federal forces continued advancing into western Virginia, where a new northern hero emerged. Fighting continued for control of Missouri, and Confederates looked to control the New Mexico Territory. The Federal and Confederate Congresses assembled to raise money for war, and the great battle that everyone had been waiting for finally took place.

Getting Into Fighting Order

Secessionists defeat a Federal detachment in a minor clash as both sides scramble to link with their main forces in southwestern Missouri.

The Special Session of the 37th U.S. Congress

The 37th Congress of the United States assembles in special session as called by President Abraham Lincoln.

Naval Operations Along the Coast and at Sea

The C.S.S. Sumter completes her first raid on U.S. shipping, Federals strengthen their blockade, and a Federal crew takes on Confederate privateers.

Irksome Delays in Northwestern Virginia

Federals are delayed in their advance against Robert S. Garnett’s Confederates at Laurel Hill and Rich Mountain in northwestern Virginia.

Our Whole Line as a False One

Robert Patterson feebly tries to engage Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederates in the Shenandoah Valley, but Johnston has other ideas.

The Battle of Rich Mountain

A detachment of George B. McClellan’s Federal army attacks an isolated portion of Robert S. Garnett’s Confederate army near Beverly in northwestern Virginia.

You Have Annihilated Two Armies

In northwestern Virginia, one Confederate commander surrendered his force, and another became the first general killed in action.

From Sullivan Ballou, 2nd Rhode Island

Letter from Major Sullivan Ballou, 2nd Rhode Island, to his wife.

General Beauregard is Attacked

The largest army ever assembled in North America went into motion at 2 p.m., starting the great campaign that many hoped would end the war.

You Will Not Need Your Beautiful Flag

In western Virginia, a Federal force looks to capture the Great Kanawha Valley while Confederates try to consolidate their forces.

Johnston Steals a March

The Federal army reaches Centreville in northern Virginia, while Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederates slip out of the Shenandoah Valley undetected and head east.

Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh U.S. Congress

The U.S. Congress begins debating on how to pay for the war, while the anti-war minority makes its voice heard.

The Battle of Bull Run

The battle that many hoped would end the war takes place in northern Virginia near a stream named Bull Run.

Military Life in Its Most Depressing Form

News of the previous day’s Confederate victory at Bull Run prompts celebrations in the South and depression in the North.

From Eugene Blackford, 5th Alabama

Letter from Eugene Blackford, 5th Alabama, to his father following the Battle of Bull Run.

From Philip Powers, 1st Virginia Cavalry

Letter from Sgt. Philip Powers, 1st Virginia Cavalry, to his wife.

For the Ultimate Success of Our Arms

The U.S. Congress defiantly resolves that the defeat at Bull Run will not stop the Federals from achieving ultimate victory.

The Crittenden-Johnson Resolution

Congress approves a resolution to define the purpose of the Federal war effort.

From Robert McAllister, 1st New Jersey

Letter from Lt. Col. Robert McAllister, 1st New Jersey Infantry, to his friend.

Admirable Self-Denial

The Federal military is reorganized following the Bull Run defeat, which includes giving command of the largest army to a young, promising general.

We Would Fight a Little First

Confederate forces cross the Rio Grande and confront Federals at Fort Fillmore in their effort to conquer the New Mexico Territory.

A Region Distracted with Civil Commotion

Political turmoil and military maneuvering continue in the bitterly divided state of Missouri.

Of Those Made in God’s Image

General Benjamin F. Butler pushes the Lincoln administration to set a firm policy regarding fugitive slaves behind Federal lines.

Last Updated: 8/4/2021

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