Civilians flocked to a hill outside the Capitol to watch the presumed victory by their Union Army. Many brought picnic baskets with bread and wine and peered through opera glasses to get a closer look at the battlefield. One woman was overheard saying, “That is splendid! Oh, my! Is not that first-rate? I guess we will be in Richmond this time tomorrow.” Richmond was the Confederate’s capitol.
By 4:30 in the afternoon, a telegraph was sent that spread the news the Union Army had achieved a glorious victory but it was premature because the tide changed and the Confederate Army made a big push. By early evening General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (who received his nickname as a result of this battle), and his soldiers overtook the exhausted Union Army and had them on the run. The civilian on-lookers, who were looking forward to a great show, looked on in horror and also retreated.
The Battle of Bull Run ended up being one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War and it certainly sent a message to the Union Army that the war wasn’t going to be short-term affair. I don’t think either side could’ve imagined that it would go on for four years with a loss of around 750,000 lives.