- By sculptor Francis Barnum
- Limited edition
- SL# 1801
There is nothing in American military history quite like the story of the first Battle of Bull Run, or as the South remembers it, First Manassas. It was a battle of amateurs and a day of awakening for both the North and South. It marked the end of the hopeful time in which men could dream that the war would be short, glorious and bloodless.
So confident that their victory would be swift and easy, hundreds of civilian spectators rode out to Manassas Junction, Virginia to witness the event. They came outfitted with binoculars, picnic baskets and bottles of champagne - to see their Northern "team" defeat the Rebels.
Fighting on the side of the South was the 1st Louisiana battalion which consisted of five companies organized in New Orleans and placed under the leadership of Major Roberdeau Wheat. The were called the "Louisiana Tigers", having adopted the name from one of the companies which made up the battalion, the "Tiger Rifles".
As a spirited, daredevil company, the Tiger Rifles wore the popular uniforms patterned after the Zouave soldiers from France. With a large French immigrant population, Louisiana, not surprisingly, saw the formation of a prominent Zouave unit. Their uniform consisted of a scarlet skull cap with long tassel, red shirt and open brown jacket, and baggy trousers of blue and white striped bed ticking, tucked into white leggins
The Tigers had been recruited from the wharves of New Orleans and their reputation as fighters long preceded the Battle of Manassas. They were called by some "the toughest battalion in the Army". One Virginia soldier confided to his diary, "They neither fear God, man or the devil."
The Confederates at First Manassas, although greatly outnumbered, courageously defeated the Union army. But after the struggle, both the North and the South understood the reality of their conflict. At First Manassas, 2,896 Union soldiers were killed, wounded and missing. Confederate losses totaled 1,982. Little did they know that this was only the beginning of our country's bloodiest conflict.