Born on October 15, 1818, McDowell went on to graduate from West Point in 1838. He became commander of the Union army south of Washington, D.C. In July he attacked and was defeated by the Confederates in the First Battle of Bull Run. After his defeat at Bull Run, he was relieved of command in August, 1862, and served as a Corps commander at the Second Bull Run, where again he lost, and was criticized for his actions. Although cleared of charges of misconduct, McDowell saw no further combat. From 1864-82, he headed several war departments and was later Parks Commissioner in San Francisco.
Bibliography: Davis, William C., The Battle of Bull Run (1977); Hassler, Warren W., Commanders of the Army of the Potomac (1962).