Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

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The Anniversary of the First Great Battle of the Civil War: Manassas.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | July 17, 2011

No. 653

150 Years ago this week, the first major battle of the Civil War occurred near Manassas Virginia.  It was the place where Stonewall Jackson gained his fame and name. The federal troops seemed to have carried the day.  But when the Confederates broke their flank, a disorderly retreat to Washington turned into a rout.  The capital itself might have been taken had the victorious rebels been prepared to overrun it.

Until then, partisans of both sides had predicted a speedy end to the war.  Now the entire North was in panic and shock.  But clear-eyed observers on both sides began to realize that the conflict was likely to be a long and very costly one. The era of modern warfare had fully arrived, utilizing mature war technologies capable of inflicting unforeseen mass casualties.  It was a lesson that would be taught over and over during the ensuing four years.

The American Civil War was the greatest Constitutional challenge that has ever been raised in our history.   At its heart were fundamental legal principles that could not be resolved by words in courtrooms —  only through a trial by ordeal.

In the aftermath of the first Battle of Manassas (or Bull Run, if you like), the jury would be out for a very long time.


CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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