All Civil War battles in Virginia 1861. They are listed in the order in which they occurred.

Civil War Battles in Virginia in 1861

Civil War Battles in Virginia in 1861


Sewell’s Point

Civil War battles in Virginia 1861

Other Names: None

Location: Norfolk City

Campaign: Blockade of the Chesapeake Bay (May-June 1861)

Date(s): May 18-19, 1861

Principal Commanders: Lt. D.L. Braine U.S.N. [US]; Brig. Gen. Walter Gwynn and Capt. Peyton Colquitt [CS]

Forces Engaged: Two gunboats [US]; battery garrison [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 10 total

Description: Two Union gunboats, including USS Monticello, dueled with Confederate batteries on Sewell’s Point in an attempt to enforce the blockade of Hampton Roads. The two sides did each other little harm.

Result(s): Inconclusive


Aquia Creek

Civil War battles in Virginia 1861

Other Names: None

Location: Stafford County

Campaign: Blockade of the Chesapeake Bay (May-June 1861)

Date(s): May 29-June 1, 1861

Principal Commanders: Cdr. James H. Ward [US]; Col. Daniel Ruggles [CS]

Forces Engaged: 3 gunboats [US]; battery garrison [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 10 total

Description: Three Union naval vessels bombarded Confederate batteries near the mouth of Aquia Creek that were built to protect the northern terminus of the railroad to Richmond. Confederates feared a landing of troops, but this did not materialize. Results of the bombardment were inconclusive, although the batteries were later withdrawn.

Result(s): Inconclusive


Big Bethel

Civil War battles in Virginia 1861

Other Names: Bethel Church, Great Bethel

Location: York County and Hampton

Campaign: Blockade of the Chesapeake Bay (May-June 1861)

Date(s): June 10, 1861

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Pierce [US]; Col. John B. Magruder and Col. D.H. Hill [CS]

Forces Engaged: 4,700 total (US 3,500; CS 1,200)

Estimated Casualties: 87 total (US 79; CS 8)

Description: This was the first land battle in Virginia. Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler sent converging columns from Hampton and Newport News against advanced Confederate outposts at Little and Big Bethel. Confederates abandoned Little Bethel and fell back to their entrenchments behind Brick Kiln Creek, near Big Bethel Church. The Federals, under immediate command of Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Pierce, pursued, attacked frontally along the road, and were repulsed. Crossing downstream, the 5th New York Zouaves attempted to turn the Confederate left flank, but were repulsed. Unit commander Col. T. Wynthrop was killed. The Union forces were disorganized and retired, returning to Hampton and Newport News. The Confederates suffered 1 killed, 7 wounded.

Result(s): Confederate victory


Blackburn’s Ford

Civil War battles in Virginia 1861

Other Names: Bull Run

Location: Prince William County and Fairfax County

Campaign: Manassas Campaign (July 1861)

Date(s): July 18, 1861

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell [US]; Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard [CS]

Forces Engaged: Brigades

Estimated Casualties: 151 total (US 83; CS 68)

Description: On 16 July, 1862, the untried Union army under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, 35,000 strong, marched out of the Washington defenses to give battle to the Confederate army, which was concentrated around the vital railroad junction at Manassas. The Confederate army, about 22,000 men, under the command of Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, guarded the fords of Bull Run. On July 18, McDowell reached Centreville and pushed southwest, attempting to cross at Blackburn’s Ford. He was repulsed. This action was a reconnaissance-in-force prior to the main event at Manassas/Bull Run. Because of this action, Union commander McDowell decided on the flanking maneuver he employed at First Manassas.

Result(s): Confederate victory


Manassas, First

Civil War battles in Virginia 1861

Other Names: First Bull Run

Location: Fairfax County and Prince William County

Campaign: Manassas Campaign (July 1861)

Date(s): July 21, 1861

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell [US]; Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard [CS]

Forces Engaged: 60,680 total (US 28,450; CS 32,230)

Estimated Casualties: 4,700 total (US 2,950; CS 1,750)

Description: This was the first major land battle of the armies in Virginia. On July 16, 1861, the untried Union army under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell marched from Washington against the Confederate army, which was drawn up behind Bull Run beyond Centreville. On the 21st, McDowell crossed at Sudley Ford and attacked the Confederate left flank on Matthews Hill. Fighting raged throughout the day as Confederate forces were driven back to Henry Hill. Late in the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements (one brigade arriving by rail from the Shenandoah Valley) extended and broke the Union right flank.

The Federal retreat rapidly deteriorated into a rout. Although victorious, Confederate forces were too disorganized to pursue. Confederate Gen. Bee and Col. Bartow were killed. Thomas J. Jackson earned the nom de guerre Stonewall. By July 22, the shattered Union army reached the safety of Washington. This battle convinced the Lincoln administration that the war would be a long and costly affair. McDowell was relieved of command of the Union army and replaced by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who set about reorganizing and training the troops.

Result(s): Confederate victory


Ball’s Bluff

Civil War battles in Virginia 1861

Other Names: Harrison’s Landing, Leesburg

Location: Loudoun County

Campaign: McClellan’s Operations in Northern Virginia (October-December 1861)

Date(s): October 21, 1861

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone and Col. Edward Baker [US]; Brig. Gen. Nathan G. Evans [CS]

Forces Engaged: 3,600 total (US 2,000; CS 1,600)

Estimated Casualties: 1,070 total (US 921; CS 149)

Description: Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan Shanks Evans stopped a badly coordinated attempt by Union forces under Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone to cross the Potomac at Harrison’s Island and capture Leesburg. A timely Confederate counterattack drove the Federals over the bluff and into the river. More than 700 Federals were captured. Col. Edward D. Baker (a U.S. Senator) was killed. This Union rout had severe political ramifications in Washington and led to the establishment of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.

Result(s): Confederate victory


Dranesville

Civil War battles in Virginia 1861

Other Names: None

Location: Fairfax County

Campaign: McClellan’s Operations in Northern Virginia (October-December 1861)

Date(s): December 20, 1861

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. E.O.C. Ord [US]; Brig. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart [CS]

Forces Engaged: Brigades

Estimated Casualties: 301 total (US 71; CS 230)

Description: Brig. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart led a brigade-sized mixed force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery to protect a foraging expedition in the vicinity of Dranesville. Union Brig. Gen. E.O.C. Ord, advancing on the Georgetown Pike, encountered Stuart’s cavalry. Both sides deployed as more units arrived on the field, and a sharp firefight developed. Stuart withdrew in the mid-afternoon after ensuring that his wagons were safely in the rear.

Result(s): Union victory