November 7, 2010
On a winter day in February 2005 I found myself with a day off and figure I’d go check out Manassas National Battlefield Park. I’d read so much about it, so I had to see what the field looked like today, over 140 years later!
Even though the ground was covered in snow and the battle actually happened in July (specifically the 21st in 1861), I was still excited thinking about the crucial events that happened there. The conflict at Manassas was the first full-scale battle of the war, and it was a huge shock for the Union. It was the battle in which Thomas J. Jackson got his nickname (Stonewall) and one that sent a grim reminder to the Union that the Confederacy was not a small insurrection.
Right behind the visitor center you’ll find this huge statue of Stonewall himself:
Over those hills in the distance citizens and politicians from nearby DC came out to watch the battle with their picnic lunches. Little did they know they’d soon be running for their lives from the cannon and musket fire before the day was through. Jackson lined his troops up just behind this statue, waiting to regroup the crumbling Confederate line. At just the right time he was able to put a stop to the Union advance. Later that day Confederate reinforcements arrived from the West who then crushed into the Union right flank, sending them in disarray back to the gates of Washington. The battle ended with the Confederates holding the field and the Union troops running.
Okay, back to the present day. Here’s another view of Stonewall’s statue. Note how ridiculously huge he looks - almost as if from a comic book:
Here’s some shot of the cannon positions behind the statues:
And here's a close up look at those tools of mass destruction:
Back to the past - a lot of the fighting centered around Henry Hill on that day. One sad thing is that the elderly inhabitant of the house on that hill - Judith Henry - became the first civilian to die during the battle when a shell went off near her bed (from which she could not leave due to her age). Here is her house reconstructed:
Up closer to the house you'll find the Union memorial there which was dedicated in 1865:
Here's a closer look:
But wait, there’s more! Here’s an even closer look. If you can’t tell, I like old stuff. I find it fascinating!
Unfortunately that’s all the photos I could come up with on my day off - I think I just got too cold to take any more! In any case I’ll have to go back sometime soon to get a more in depth overview of the field and its features.