Second Battle of Bull Run Lesson for Kids: Summary & Facts

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the Second Battle of Bull Run, a major battle in the American Civil War. Find out how the Confederate soldiers fought smart and won, even though there were fewer of them.

War Begins

Today, Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia is full of hilly, grassy fields with a stream named Bull Run that goes through it. It's hard to imagine that the area was also where two major battles in the American Civil War took place.

The Civil War began in 1861 between the Union (the Northern states) and the Confederacy (the Southern states). Several months after the war started, mostly inexperienced soldiers fought in the Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas, on July 21, 1861. Back then, many people thought the war would be quick. The Confederates won that battle, and about 900 soldiers died.

The next year, 56,000 Confederate soldiers and 70,000 Union soldiers would meet there again to fight the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28-30, 1862). By now, both the Union and Confederate forces were more organized, had better weapons, and had learned about fighting.

Second Battle of Bull Run

Why Manassas?

You might be wondering what was so special about Manassas to make it a site for multiple battles. Well, there were railroad lines running through Manassas Junction, and it was very close to Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The Union army had warehouses there to store food, drinks, and other supplies.

Manassas Junction in 1862

Before the Battle

Gen. Robert E. Lee was in charge of the Confederate's Army of Northern Virginia. The Union's Army of Virginia was led by General John Pope. Lee and Pope found themselves on either side of a river, and Lee came up with a plan to beat Pope before he could get any more help from the North.

On August 25, Lee sent General Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson to move to the other side of Pope. Along the way, Jackson's soldiers raided the Union warehouses at Manassas and burned what they found (after eating what they wanted!). Jackson then moved into the woods to wait for Pope. Meanwhile, Lee sent General James Longstreet to meet up with Jackson.

Stonewall Jackson

Second Battle of Bull Run

Pope moved 66,000 men right to where Jackson was waiting. On August 28, Jackson saw the Union troops coming and told his soldiers to come out and fight. They fought all day, and many were killed or hurt. A soldier from Wisconsin wrote ''My G-d, what a slaughter''.

After the first day, Pope thought he had Jackson's troops trapped and didn't realize that Longstreet was almost there. In another day of fighting, Jackson held his ground.

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