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The Two Battles of Manassas

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By Wayne Lazarus on June 8th, 2010

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

A field in northern Virginia was the site of two important battles during the American Civil War. The first Battle of Manassas was fought July 16, 1861, when troops from both sides were still fairly inexperienced and eager for a skirmish in what they expected would be a short war. A victory for the Confederate side, the resulting 4,700 casualties awakened many of the young soldiers to the realities of war. This was the battle in which Thomas Jackson earned the nickname “Stonewall.”

9626_200475832176_591927176_4394096_1535712_nThe second battle took place just over a year later, August 29-30, resulting in more than 23,000 casualties. Fields in the area were described as blood-soaked. Another Confederate victory, it resulted in the South’s decision to invade Maryland. Both battles are also known as Bull Run, which is the name of the creek that runs through the fields.

The Manassas National Battlefield Park is made up of 5,000 acres of the battlefield. At the Henry Hill Visitors Center, people can see uniforms, weapons and field gear and watch a 45-minute film that explains the battles, aptly entitled “End of Innocence.” There is a one-mile self-guided trail of the area. A statue of Stonewall Jackson looks out onto the battlefield. Every July and August, re-enactors, enthusiasts and Friends of the Park gather for annual commemorations of the battles. Each event includes ranger led tours of the battlefield, both Union and Confederate encampments as well as demonstrations of artillery, musketry and cavalry. The National Park Service requires a $3 admission fee for those 16 and older.9626_200476052176_591927176_4394128_3390433_n

In nearby Manassas, the Manassas Museum has other displays of interest, include one opening June 2010 on Civil War espionage. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 to 5, with a $5 admission fee. You’ll want to pick up a guide to the Manassas Walking Tour or Driving Tour that the museum has prepared, which covers other wartime sites in the area. There are a number of choices for lodging in the area, from urban locations in Arlington to the more suburban Centreville and Manassas locations.

(Photos by Matthew Young. Used with permission.)

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