Looking back at the history of the Civil War from a modern day standpoint, we are often times distracted by the facts, figures, and tactics that came out of that time; who won, who lost, who was well equipped, who had the best commanders? Because it happened so long ago, it is easy to forget that real people were involved and affected by the war. It wasn’t just the soldiers who were impacted, but their families, women, children, and those who would be denied the freedom, even to join the fight.
In Bull Run, Paul Fleischman creates the compelling voices of sixteen characters, all from different walks of life, and all of whom finding common ground at the first great battle of the Civil War, Bull Run. There is the young girl from Minnesota whose brother joins the Union army, despite their father’s objections. There is the freed black man from Ohio who does whatever it takes to get into battle. An opportunistic photographer who doesn’t care who wins as long as he can sell a picture, and a Virginia mother whose three son-in-laws fight at Bull Run, and will have her house turned into a makeshift hospital after the battle. These are just some of the direct and indirect participants of that bloody July day in 1861.
Although the Confederates end up winning the battle, both sides come to realize that war is not as glorious as it seems, and that it will take more than one devastating fight to decide the fate of the country.