U.S. Marine Corps Dictionary

Bull Run

The first major battle of the Civil War in which a battalion of inexperienced Marines from the Washington Navy Yard performed well beyond what should have been expected of them. With an average of 3 weeks since enlisting, the Marines were trained enroute to the battle by Major John G. Reynolds, the battalion commander, and his officers. They supported the 11th New York “Fire Zouaves” in the first attack during which the Zouaves broke and ran–never to be seen again on the battlefield-taking the Marines with them from the field. The Marines were rallied four times and entered the battle (a rate equal to the professional soldiers of the Federal Army) five times. On the fifth attack, the field was swept by fresh Confederate troops (in blue uniforms) who had just been brought in by train from the Shenandoah Valley. General McDowell and his officers roundly praised the Marines for their skill and tenacity but Colonel Commandant John Harris, in his report to the Secretary of the Navy, wrote “It is the first instance in history where any portion of its members turned their backs on the enemy.” Ignoring fact, the Commandant attempted to hurt the career of Major Reynolds and established a lie in the annals of the Corps.

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DevilDogCorps.com is an unofficial online dictionary of terms and acronyms commonly used within the United States Marine Corps.