An Interesting Contradiction: Visiting a Civil War Battlefield During the 4th of July Weekend

During the weekend of the 4th (the day celebrating America’s declaration of independence from the United Kingdom), my boyfriend and I found ourselves in northern VA visiting family. Following a discussion of what types of mischief we could get ourselves in, he suggested visiting the Manassas Battlefield National Park. The battlefield was the site of the First and Second Battles of Manassas (better known as the First and Second Battles of Bull Run). These early battles of the American Civil War marked the beginning of what would be four years of bloodshed between the northern and southern factions in the U.S. I won’t go into too much description of the battle here, but it ultimately was a Southern victory that ultimately proved at the war could not be won in one large battle and that said battle was not just a way to pass the time.

I had never been to a battlefield before so I did not know quite what to expect beyond a wide expanse of, well, land. The Manassas Battlefield National Park (MBNP) spans around 1500 acres in northern Virginia. The historical site includes numerous historical houses, remains of houses, a family graveyard, informational signs and monuments, and replica cannons and fencing. Andrew and I did a one-mile walking tour that began at the visitor center and looped around two houses and a monument to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, one of the greatest Confederate generals. Jackson gained his famous moniker during the First Battle of Manassas. His statue faces over the site of the battle – I felt quite small as I craned my neck up to see his carved face.

We were able to see the Henry House where Judith Carter Henry resided with her family. During the battle, Henry refused to vacate the premises. As a result, she was mortally wounded and proved to be the only civilian casualty of the battle. The loop also encircled the Robinson House, the residence of a wealthy African American man named Jim Robinson. He purchased the land from a nearby landowner, and his house remained virtually unscathed in the aftermath of the First and Second Battles of Manassas. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground in 1993 as a result of arson.

Overall, the little we saw of the battlefield was quite interesting. I would highly recommend visiting if you get the chance!

Overlooking the battlefield

Overlooking some of the battlefield

Henry Hill House

Henry Hill House

Remains of the Robinson House

Remains of the Robinson House

Stonewall Jackson statue

Monument of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson

 

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