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Occasionally the question arises as to why Civil War Battles have more than one name (ie. "Bull Run" and "Manassas") and if there is any general pattern to the naming.

It is commonly held that the South named battles after the nearest town while the North used rivers or streams. However, there are those who feel that the naming did not fit a pattern and that those who see one are mistaken.

In the book, "Battles & Leaders of the Civil War", there is an article (circa 1887) by Southern General D.H. Hill addressing the battle of South Mountain, in which he discusses the naming of battles. His comments, presented below, although subject to debate, show that, as early as 1887, the leaders in the Civil War did recognize a pattern in the naming of battles by the opposing forces.

[Paragraphs addressing double names in the D. H. Hill article follow.--Ed]


"By Daniel H. Hill, Lieutenant-General, C.S.A.

"THE conflict of the 14th of September, 1862, is called at the North the battle of South Mountain, and at the South the battle of Boonsboro'. So many battlefields of the Civil War bear double names that we cannot believe the duplication has been accidental.

"It is the unusual which impresses.

"The troops of the North came mainly from cities, towns, and villages, and were, therefore, impressed by some natural object near the scene of the conflict and named the battle from it. The soldiers from the South were chiefly from the country and were, therefore, impressed by some artificial object near the field of action.

"In one section the naming has been after the handiwork of God; in the other section it has been after the handiwork of man.

"Thus, the first passage of arms is called the battle of Bull Run at the North,---the name of a little stream. At the South it takes the name of Manassas, from a railroad station. The second battle on the same ground is called the Second Bull Run by the North, and the Second Manassas by the South. Stone's defeat is the battle of Ball's Bluff with the Federals, and the battle of Leesburg with the Confederates. The battle called by General Grant, Pittsburg Landing, a natural object, was named Shiloh, after a church, by his antagonist. Rosecrans called his first great fight with Bragg, the battle of Stone River, while Bragg named it after Murfreesboro', a village. So McClellan's battle of the Chickahominy, a little river, was with Lee the battle of Cold Harbor, a tavern.

"The Federals speak of the battle of Pea Ridge, of the Ozark range of mountains, and the Confederates call it after Elk Horn, a country inn. The Union soldiers called the bloody battle three days after South Mountain from the little stream, Antietam, and the Southern troops named it after the village of Sharpsburg. Many instances might be given of this double naming by the opposing forces."

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