Manassas Anniversary Weekend

This weekend, the Manassas National Battlefield Park held their annual observance of the anniversary of the First Manassas or Bull Run (if you prefer).  These are always good events for my young aide-de-camp, with  demonstrations and displays to attract the attention of a young little boy.  An added blessing this year, and I cannot recall a summer as this one, are the mild temperatures.   Almost early June weather in the middle of July!  So if a “bad day” walking a Civil War battlefield is better than a “great day” at work, then what would a GREAT DAY on the battlefield be like????

Our first stop of the day was the Stone Bridge.  My aide loves to get a good look at bridges, and of course is fascinated by any body of water.

The Stone Bridge

The Stone Bridge from the East Bank

Like many battlefield “wanderers”, I’m somewhat inspired by William Frassanito, and look for “then and now” comparisons.  The Stone Bridge received some attention over the last few years for the wear and tear due to exposure and weathering.  Of course the current Stone Bridge is itself a “repair” of the bridge destroyed in March 1862.

Ruins of Stone Bridge 1862

This photo taken 1962 included in the Historic American Building Survey shows the south facing side of the bridge:

1962 View of South Face of Bridge

1962 View of South Face of Bridge

The south face today looks very much as it did in during the Centennial years:

South Face of Bridge Today

South Face of Bridge Today

Beyond the bridge, one of our objectives was the recently repaired walkway over the low ground west of the bridge.  The causeway was repaired over the last two seasons by volunteers.  Work was ongoing as recently as this last May when Harry Smeltzer and I stomped around the battlefield.

Repaired Walkway West of the Stone Bridge

Repaired Walkway West of the Stone Bridge

The trail offers many opportunities to examine the flora and fauna of Northern Virginia up close.  And some of the fauna are … well… just as interested in us people as we are of them!

Four Legged Residents of Manassas

Mother and "Bambi" Enjoy Manassas

Our next stop was the Stone House.  For the Anniversary weekend, the upper floor was open for viewing.  Since the rooms upstairs are not furnished, many visitors bypass the climb up.  Personally I consider the Stone House to be the Manassas answer to the observation towers at Antietam or Gettysburg.  From the upstairs windows one can take in Buck Hill and Henry House Hill.

Buck Hill through the Stone House Windows

Buck Hill through the Stone House Windows

The antique style window panes add that “rustic” feel to the view.  But of course, I should have stopped to “do the windows.”  The view to the south is equally impressive, but one must time traffic to avoid a photo cluttered with “modernisms.”

Henry House and Hill from Stone House

Henry House and Hill from Stone House

From the Stone House, we made a short walk up Buck Hill.  Much of the landscape restoration is complete now, with recent additions of wood rail fencing.

Matthews Hill from Buck Hill

Matthews Hill from Buck Hill

And with the living historians in full force at the Henry House, the tentage present offered a “glimpse of the past.”

Stone and Henry Houses from Buck Hill

Stone and Henry Houses from Buck Hill

Our last stop on the 1st Manassas Battlefield was the Visitor Center.  My aide is always interested in the cannon, and insisted on a walk to the Confederate artillery line east of the Henry House.

Confederate Artillery

Confederate Artillery

If you follow my marker entries, you’ll notice I have a fondness for the “gunner’s view” of the battlefield.

Gunner's View of the Henry House

Gunner's View of the Henry House

After chatting with several living historians and park rangers, my aide announced it was time for a picnic.  While many visitors to the battlefield prefer to forage into the sprawl of Manassas, we opted to visit the park’s picnic area off Groveton Road.  This section of the battlefield was “saved” from development in what was called the Third Battle of Manassas.  I find it a rather quiet spot for a break, with several sites nearby related to the 2nd Manassas.

Now to answer my earlier question, “What is a GREAT DAY on the battlefield be like?”  Well on the ride home, my aide announced, “this was the best day trip E-V-E-R!”

Even if it rains every weekend past Labor Day this year, with that note, I’ve got to call this summer campaign season a success.   I think my son has a memory to cherish in later years.

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3 responses to “Manassas Anniversary Weekend

  1. Great photos and report, Craig. Thanks.

  2. Pingback: Craig Swain’s Manassas Weekend « Bull Runnings

  3. Thanks for the pics. Great shots! Reading Detzer’s “Donnybrook” in “real time” today to experience the battle and these photos and comments are amongst the most helpful I have found. It looks like Virginia is as sunny as that day was, perhaps a bit cooler (unfortunately for the soldiers). On to Stonewall’s glory, Johnston’s timeliness, and “The Big Skedaddle”. Thanks again.