We started our trip to Manassas, VA at the early time of 7:30 am. I rolled out of bed and onto the bus, and then realized that I had a ton of reading to do. So my plan of sleeping the nearly two hour ride was put on hold while I got caught up in my classes. Unfortunately, when I looked up from my book, we were lost! After a couple of hairpin turns and near catastrophes, we finally turned into the Manassas National Military Park.
Being accustomed to the sprawling battlefields of Gettysburg, I naïvely expected the same thing at Manassas. The town surrounding two important battles of the Civil War has obviously grown over the past few decades, and historic places are interspersed with strip malls, restaurants, and housing developments. Despite all of this, we received an excellent tour and analysis of the first battle of Manassas, also known as 1st Bull Run, by National Park Ranger Jim Burgess.
We started the tour driving to important aspects of the battle, like Signal Hill and the stone bridge, while Jim tested our knowledge of the battle along the way (don't worry, Dr. Guelzo taught us well). We hiked (or hobbled when appropriate) around the stone bridge, and then took a much needed break for lunch. The afternoon found us with inside access to the Stone House, which is one of the oldest structures in town. We also went to the crucial Henry House Hill. It was on this hill that fighting went back and forth for hours until General Jackson made a decisive move. It was also here that Stonewall Jackson got his legendary name.
We could not leave the battlefield without visiting the massive tribute to Jackson, whose outrageous statue (and technically good physique) commands the skyline. I could not help myself from gawking at how huge (in more than one way) it was! After perusing the gift shop, where we found yet another homage to Joshua Chamberlain (this time in the form of an action figure doll), we piled into the bus and headed back to the Appleford just as the rain began. We lucked out with the weather, and hopefully next week's trip to Winchester will be just as lucky!
2007 Battlefield Blog Home | Orientation | Harpers Ferry | Valley Campaign | Manassas | Antietam
Gettysburg Day One | Gettysburg Day Two | Gettysburg Day Three | Cold Harbor, Petersburg & Five Forks
Wilderness & Spotsylvania | Appomattox | Washington