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United States Military Academy Library

2nd Battle of Bull Run

Getting Started

READ CAREFULLY THE ASSIGNMENT INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO YOU BY YOUR SECTION INSTRUCTOR.   Direct questions about the assignment instructions to your section instructor.

BEGIN by reading carefully the section on the 2nd Battle of Bull Run in Chapter 27 of West Point History of Warfare.

Then consult the instructions from your individual section instructor.  This Help Guide will also tell you how to locate a variety of primary and secondary sources.

As you can see the work cited above is a staff ride guide. But what is a staff ride? The resource below may help you learn more about the work and what it is. It is not necessary to consult this, and you can simply start with Gudmens, but it may help some to understand how and why the U.S. Army uses staff rides in professional military education.

Keller, Christian B. and Ethan S. Rafuse. "The Civil War Battlefield Staff Ride in the Twenty-first Century." Civil War History 62, no. 2 (June 2016): 201-213. America: History and Life with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed September 4, 2019).

Order of Battle

Whether your topic is directly related to the tactical conduct of the battle or has something to do with a broader aspect, it is very likely you will need to know how the two armies were organized.  You will need to have at hand some kind of reference regarding which regiments were part of which brigade, who commanded each division and which brigades composed it, etc.  

To gain knowledge of these matters, consult an Order of Battle of the Union and Confederate forces at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run.

Q. What is an Order of Battle?

A. An Order of Battle is a document that explains the organization and composition of a military force at some period of time, whether a specific point in time or over some longer period.  The term originates from eras (such as the early modern period) when commanders documented the actual arrangement on the field of particular units in a battle line.  “Order of Battle” for military historians, however, has come to mean any document (whether in the form of formatted text, a chart, table, etc.) that makes clear the hierarchical command relationships and organizational structure of a military force.  It is usually used to make clear the composition of larger forces, whether the entire military force of one nation or coalition a part thereof, such a a field army, etc.

Order of Battle for the armies at 2nd Bull Run

The armies that fought at 2nd Bull Run were rather large, and having at hand a full order of battle of the both the Union and Confederate sides will likely be of great help.   If your research takes you deeply into the conduct of the battle, you will likely rely on the O.R. and to use it you will need to know which regiments belonged to which brigades, etc.      You may also use the Order of Battle for 2nd Bull Run in concert with various maps to increase your understanding of some particular tactical situation, if your research involves that. 

Understanding the Order of Battle. Note that during the American Civil War, unlike later periods, Brigades and Divisions were not permanent organizations with a numerical designation but rather designated by the name of their commander.  Regiments, however, did have a consistent designation.  That designation consisted of (usually) a number, name of a state, and the arm of service, e.g. 15th New York Infantry.   This applies to state volunteer units which composed the majority of the Union Army.  It may be helpful for you to know the names of commanders of individual regiments; some Civil War orders of battle list these and some do not.  Also note that if a commander was killed or wounded in action and someone else took over command of his unit, some orders of battle will list this as well.

A basic order of battle for the 2nd Battle of Bull Run is found in pp. 23-26 of U.S. Army Center of Military History. Second Battle of Bull Run Staff Ride Briefing Book.




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