In July 1861 President Abraham Lincoln made it clear that there would be no separation of the Union. Therefore, from the viewpoint of the Confederacy, the American Civil War had to continue. Both Lincoln and Davis had set out their beliefs and their detemined stand made a long drawn out civil war inevitable. July 1861 also saw the first major battle of the American Civil War at Bull Run.
July 1st: The Union government announced that it would recruit in Tennessee and Kentucky even though Tennessee had already voted to join the Confederacy and Kentucky had announced her resolve to remain neutral.
July 2nd: General John C Frémont was made commander of Union forces in Missouri. A large Confederate force massed just a few miles outside of Washington DC. 18,000 Union soldiers moved out to observe their movements but not to engage them.
July 3rd: The threat of having to confront 18,000 Union soldiers was sufficient for the Confederacy to withdraw their men from their position near Washington DC and the capital was once again deemed to be safe.
July 6th: General Sigel continued his withdrawal to Mount Vernon.
July 8th: The Confederacy set in motion a plan to take control of New Mexico territory and appointed General H Sibley to command it.
July 10th: President Lincoln intervened in an effort to keep Kentucky neutral during the war. Lincoln sent an appeal to Simon Bolivar Buckner, Kentucky’s Inspector General of Militia, and a known opponent of secession.
July 11th: The Battle of Rich Mountain in western Virginia was fought resulting in a Union victory over the Confederates. It was the bloodiest engagement to date with 71 killed – 11 Union troops and 60 Confederates. At nearby Laurel Mountains, an attack by Union troops forced the Confederates based there to withdraw.
July 12th: 600 Confederate troops were taken prisoner at Beverley in western Virginia when Union troops occupied the town.
July 13th: The Confederates suffered a heavy defeat at Carrick’s Ford in western Virginia. This defeat meant that Union forces had a commanding control over western Virginia.
July 14th: With a secure base in western Virginia McClellan was able to conduct operations against the rest of Virginia. Control of a number of vital rail lines allowed troops to be moved to western Virginia and McClellan planned to send 40,000 troops under General McDowell into Virginia.
July 17th: This day witnessed the most fighting to date. All the fighting was on a small-scale but it took place in Fulton, Missouri, Martinsburg, Missouri, Scarrytown, western Virginia and Bunker Hill, Virginia.
July 18th: A sizeable action took place at Blackburn’s Ford on the Bull Run Creek. Troops from McDowell’s force encountered well dug in Confederates under the command of James Longstreet. While the Union force was suitably engaged a large Confederate force withdrew to Manassas Junction.
July 19th: McDowell realised that his men had not engaged the main part of the Confederate force while fighting at Blackburn’s Ford and that the bulk were now stationed at Bull Creek. McDowell knew that he had to do something if only because many of his troops (10,000) were on a three-month enlistment and their time was up within days. Under no circumstances could he take on the Confederates short of 10,000 men.
July 20th: 9,000 Confederate soldiers from the Army of the Shenandoah joined those already at Bull Run. McDowell had a force of 28,000 men after 2,000 three-month enlisters could not be persuaded to stay on. The Confederate force numbered just over 30,000 men.
July 21st: The Battle of Bull Run was fought. The battle saw a Confederate victory and overwhelming evidence that the Union forces were not as well disciplined as was thought. Panic and non-ordered withdrawals became contagious and the Union army retreated en masse when it became clear that Confederate forces were not willing to run. Men from Thomas Jackson’s brigade stood “like a stone wall" to ensure that the Union forces could not advance and Jackson ended up with the nickname ‘Stonewall’ Jackson. Union casualties totalled 2,896 men – with 460 killed. Confederate casualties totalled 1,982 with 400 killed. The Confederate victory made Washington DC even more exposed while the government there realised that what they thought would be an easy victory was actually the start of what would be a much longer war than anyone could have previously predicted. In the Confederacy, the opposite occurred. The leaders of the Confederates believed that the war would be short especially after the poor performance of the Union army witnessed at Bull Run.
July 22nd: Two state governments existed in Missouri. One was for secession and was led by Governor Jackson while the other was pro-Union and based in Jefferson City.
July 23rd: General John C Frémont was put in command of Union forces in the West.
July 24th: The Confederates evacuated the area around Charleston after they were attacked by Union forces.
July 25th: Congress passed the Crittenden Resolution, which declared that the war was being fought to preserve the Union and not to abolish slavery.
July 27th: General McDowell was relieved of his command of Union troops in the Washington DC area by President Lincoln. General McClellan was handed the command.
July 29th: Union forces in western Virginia still held the upper hand. President Davis decided to send General Robert E Lee to the area to resolve matters.
July 31st: General Ulysees S Grant was appointed General of Volunteers by Lincoln.