The Battle of First Manassas (or as the Yankees like to say The First Battle of Bull Run) was fought on July 21, 1861. We will commemorate its 150 anniversary on Thursday this week.

The Union officials thought it would be an easy victory for the North, but history proved otherwise. The South won the day but the inexperience on both sides showed that this war was going to be essentially a war fought by amateurs. Also it would be a long and bloody one, much to the dismay of those in authority, both North and South.

For the most part the commanding officers on both sides were trained military men, a great many of them West Point graduates, and veterans of the Mexican War and other conflicts. But under them were farmers and businessmen who put down their tools, picked up their guns, and marched off to do battle for a cause they believed in.

For them it was a trial by fire, and many found warfare more frightening than they had ever imagined. No wonder when the Confederates routed the Yankees that day at Manassas, the retreat became a rout, and blind panic ensued.

But those who survived the firs few battles, became better soldiers and helped teach and inspire the constant flood of new recruits.