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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Bull Run, Second Battle of


Date(s): August 28-30, 1862
Location: Manassas, Virginia (Google Map)
Other name(s): Manassas II, Manassas Plains, Groveton, Gainesville, Brawner's Farm
Campaign: Northern Virginia Campaign (August 1862)
Outcome: Confederate victory


The Second Battle of Bull Run drove the Union army back to Washington, D.C. and opened the North to Confederate invasions during summer and fall of 1862.

On August 28, 1862, 62,000 Union forces attacked 20,000 Confederates between Gainesville and Manassas, Virginia. Though outnumbered, Confederate troops managed to hold off their attackers until 28,000 reinforcements arrived. On the August 29, their combined forces conducted the largest mass assault of the war, crushing the Union troops and pushing them back to Washington, D.C. By the end of the third day, more than 18,000 soldiers had been killed or wounded.

Wisconsin’s Role

The 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th Wisconsin Infantry regiments participated in the Second Battle of Bull Run. At Brawner’s Farm on August 28, 298 of the roughly 500 soldiers in the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry were killed or wounded. On August 29-30, the regiments were assigned to the rear to protect the retreating Union Army as it made its way back to Washington. Over the course of the three days, at total of 588 Wisconsin men were either killed or wounded.

When the Wisconsin regiments arrived in Washington, they rested at the fringes of the White House lawn. According to historian Frank Klement, “President Lincoln came out with a pail of water in one hand and a dipper in the other. He moved among the men, offering water to the tired and thirsty. Some Wisconsin soldiers drank from the common dipper and thanked the President for his kindness.”

Learn more

Read about Wisconsin's participation on pages 448-450 in E.B. Quiner’s “Military History of Wisconsin” (Madison: 1866).

View battle maps

View original documents

[Source: Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields (Washington, 1993); Estabrook, C. Records and Sketches of Military Organizations (Madison, 1914); Love, W. Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion (Madison, 1866).]
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