Do you think that the Civil war would have played out differently had the Union treated the First Battle of Bull Run like they were actually in a war, and not some target practice test? Would there have been a war at all? Please comment.
Winning a battle had nothing to do with winning the war. Put yourself in society back then, when people stood for something greater and were willing to actually die for a cause they believed in.
Whether they were routed or not, they would have continued to defend their beliefs and states' rights. The Union would continue to attempt to force them back in and the Confederates would continue to defend their land.
I can ask you the same question to answer your question, 'Did the war end at Gettysburg?'
The key about the Union forces is that they were poorly lead in the beginning. If they had had militarily aggressive generals, the Union would have won easily. In many cases, such as the Overland and Peninsular Campaigns, the Union troops could see Richmond. Yes, the Union troops could have taken the battle more serious, but the chaos of the battle cause confusion too. I think the problem ultimately was the poorly trained troops and the lack of strong leadership.