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.
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.
This photo taken 1962 included in the Historic American Building Survey shows the south facing side of the bridge:
The south face today looks very much as it did in during the Centennial years:
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
And with the living historians in full force at the Henry House, the tentage present offered a “glimpse of the past.”
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.
If you follow my marker entries, you’ll notice I have a fondness for the “gunner’s view” of the battlefield.
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.