“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Centreville in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Blackburnís Ford

Bullets “Humming Like a Bee-hive”

Blackburn's Ford Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 2, 2007
1. Blackburn's Ford Marker
Inscription. On July 18, 1861, Gen. Irvin McDowell, the Union army commander, learned that the Confederate army had withdrawn from its Centreville earthworks to a strong defensive position behind Bull Run. McDowell ordered Gen. Daniel Tyler to reconnoiter the stream but not bring on an engagement. Tyler accompanied Col. Israel Richardsonís brigade to Blackburnís Ford. Arriving about noon, Tyler and Richardson found a cleared field sloping down from woods to the creekís banks, which were thick with underbrush and trees. Tyler decided to test the Confederate position after seeing enemy artillery in the distance.

Two Federal cannon opened fire, and a brief artillery duel was followed by a Union infantry attack as the novice soldiers of the 1st Massachusetts Infantry swept down the hillside toward the ford. Suddenly a volley of Confederate musketry erupted from the woods across the creek. Repeated attempts to take the ford failed when volley after volley of bullets “humming like a bee-hive” force the New Englanders back. The contest ended about 4:00 when the Federals withdrew. Each side had engaged about 3,000 men; the thick vegetation helped reduce the casualties (68 Confederates and 83 Federals).

The clash at Blackburnís Ford proved a moral victory for the Southerners, who celebrated the Union repulse as a major battle. It
Close Up View of the Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 2, 2007
2. Close Up View of the Map
Note the map is oriented with North at the bottom.
demoralized the Federals, who experienced their first combat and learned that the Bull Run fords would be fiercely contested. Two Union soldiers received the Medal of Honor for their bravery.

(Sidebar): Three days later, on July 21, there again was action at Blackburnís Ford when Confederates approached it to flank the Federals. The 5th South Carolina and the 17th and 18th Mississippi under command of Gen. D.R. Jones attacked Col. Thomas Daviesí New York regiments at Grigsbyís Hill and were repulsed. During the Federal retreat, Confederate forces under command of Gen. Milledge Bonham and Col. James Longstreet moved across the fords to break the Union line of retreat, but Federal forces had established a new line of defense on the outskirts of Centreville.
Erected by Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 38° 48.204′ N, 77° 26.977′ W. Marker is in Centreville, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker is on Centreville Road (Virginia Route 28), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Off the southbound side of the road, on the north side of the bridge over Bull Run. Marker is in this post office area: Centreville VA 20121, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least
Two Civil War Trails Markers at Blackburn's Ford image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 2, 2007
3. Two Civil War Trails Markers at Blackburn's Ford
8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Blackburnís Ford (here, next to this marker); McLean Farm (Yorkshire Plantation) (approx. 0.7 miles away); Wilmer McLeanís Yorkshire (approx. 0.7 miles away); The Centreville Confederate Military Railroad (approx. 0.7 miles away); Wilmer McLean after the Civil War (approx. ĺ mile away); Mitchellís Ford (approx. one mile away); Union Mills Historic Site (approx. 1.3 miles away); Military Railroad Terminus (approx. 1.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Centreville.
More about this marker. The marker has a map of the tactical situation described in the text and portraits of U.S. Col. Israel Richardson and C.S. Col. James Longstreet.
Categories. War, US Civil
Blackburn's Ford image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 2, 2007
4. Blackburn's Ford
Credits. This page was last revised on July 18, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 2, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,546 times since then and 4 times this year. Last updated on May 22, 2011. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 2, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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