When we first heard we were being assigned to DC, we were pretty nervous. At first all we could see was the nightmare of traffic and the high cost of living! However, as we rolled down I-70, we began passing large brown signs for National Historic Sites and we were hooked! Back when George Washington was planning the location of the National Capital, he chose the border of Maryland and Virginia as a central location for this growing nation (middle of the 13 colonies, at least). The District of Columbia would become a central location for the American Civil War as well. One side trying to invade it, and the other trying to hold it. We were moving to a veritable ‘hot bed’ of history!!!
The Manassas Battlefield is actually the site of 2 major Amiercan Civil War battles. It is the site of the very first battle of the American Civil War, and because of our love of history, we chose to hit this first. The site is very well preserved and has amazing first-hand historic accounts of the battle to read and experience! Did you know that civilians from DC drove down to Manassas in their buggies with lunch baskets to watch the battle? These ‘spectators’ truly believed that this was going to be a one battle war. It was July 16, 1861, and these crowds had just cheered the parade of troops as they marched out of Washington DC for this battle. After the incident at Fort Sumter, President Lincoln had summoned this 90-day enlistment of greenhorn volunteers to quickly squash this rebellious rabble.
[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”2881″ align=”right” size=”small” autoHeight=”true”] The Battle of Manassas was a crude wake up that left the North reeling in retreat and the empowered the South. Along with stunning the North, it would bring a southern leader to the forefront. General Thomas J. Jackson became known as “Stonewall” during this battle. For the rest of this historic day, please proceed to Manassas, VA for a tour of the historic grounds and watch the excellent historic video that is provided at the Visitor’s Center 😉 You can also read a history on the battle by going to the NPS website.
I think what struck me the most were the eye-witness accounts, some by the wives of the soldiers fighting. One wife described what she saw as she sat on a hill nearby, knowing her husband was engaged in battle, watching the plumes of canon smoke waft over the trees. I have personally kissed my hubby goodbye, sending him off to war, but I didn’t have to endure WATCHING the battle knowing my husband was fighting amongst the smoke. How heart wrenching that would have been!! My prayer life would have been stellar! The more I learn about the Civil War (we just happen to be doing that unit in homeschool when we moved here to MD) the more I am humbled. These men survived horrible conditions, many of the casualties were killed as a result of the battle, not during battle itself.
Another reason we love the Manassas Battlefield is all the reenactments they host here! We walk around this historic site as often as we can (we reached the 10th visit mark already).