Thoughts From Places Spotlight: Manassas, VA (2010)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

| | |

My Trip to the Manassas Battlefield!

Plaque that marks the site of the First Battle of Manassas or Bull Run.

Monument to the fallen Union soldiers.
One of the main things you must know to understand my dad is that he is a Civil War buff. He knows everything about the Civil War, his favorite battle is Gettysburg, and I think he was secretly very pleased that I was born on July 1st, the first day of that Pennsylvanian battle that changed the course of the war (even if me being born that day meant that I was over a month early).  He’s been to Gettysburg twice already so this time he wanted to see a different field of battle.

Here’s a little history for you who don’t know about the Manassas Battlefield (commonly known as the Battle of Bull Run to us Northerners): Technically, there were two battles, the first which took place on July 21st, 1861 and the second which happened a year or so later between August 28 and 30th, 1862! It is most memorable for being the place that Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson received his famous nickname “Stonewall.”

Jackson's Statue.

The stars sort of aligned to get us to the Manassas Battlefield. As luck would have it some friends of my mom’s lived in Manassas and offered to take us sightseeing while we were there! We had never met them before because mom had met them via facebook but it didn’t matter as soon as we met G. and Daisy (nicknames) it felt as if we’d known them forever. We were worried about dad though because he doesn’t get the internet and for a little while was convinced we’d be going to our deaths (which is reasonable of course) but as it turned out Daisy was just as big of a history nut as dad so they had plenty to talk about.

The Battlefield is part of the National Park Service and obviously because it is a battlefield it is rather huge so we only saw the most exciting bits. Because let’s face it battlefields are really just a lot of grass. No matter what happened there they aren’t EXTREMELY exciting (unless you’re my dad or someone similar that is). We went to the visitor center and then to the Henry House near Matthews Hill, which served as the opening phase of the first battle. This was a very large, you guessed it, field of grass with a scattering of monuments, plaques and a tiny graveyard with only a few stones. 

The Stone House
Despite how boring I make it sound, it was pretty cool and slightly strange. There were several plaques that said would mark the spot of some famous person or another who had been wounded or died there. There was a monument to the fallen Union soldiers and the statue of “Stonewall” Jackson that marked the spot he got his nickname when someone famously said “There stands Jackson like a stone wall.” I think what Dad and I liked the most about the battlefield actually. I think it’s incredibly cool that they put up a giant statue of him on his horse to mark that. His nickname is literally set in stone!

The cannonball in the side of the
Stone House.
Next we went to the Stone House which served as a hospital during the battles. Which like the battlefield is exactly what it sounds like. We, as a country, suck at naming things, I’ve come to notice. Most things are very obvious. The Stone House was important not just because it was a hospital but because it served as a landmark for the soldiers. Everyone knew where that house was because it was the only thing at a very important intersection. It was a cool house. A lot of it was still original and the NPS restored the rest of it and added historically accurate items to the house such as a maps and newspapers. 
I took this while sitting on the steps outside looking in.
The camera is on the floor and with both doors open you
can see the worn path to the battlefield.
My favorite part was the cannonball that is still stuck in the bricks of the house near the door and that if both front and back doors were open I could see straight through the small house out onto the battlefield.

If you want to read more about my week long trip to Washington, DC in 2010 click here!