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Cannon and historic battlefield within Manassas National Battlefield Park
Photograph courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources

The 300-acre tract bordered by Bull Run was the scene of two Confederate victories. The First Battle of Manassas, fought July 21, 1861, was the opening engagement of the Civil War and pitted Union brigadier general Irvin McDowell's unseasoned troops against ill-trained but spirited Confederates under Brigadier General P. G. T. Beauregard. The naive, unprepared troops would soon have their hopes of a short war dashed as they came face to face with the horrors and carnage of war. The Union attack was repulsed by Confederates inspired by Gen. Thomas J. Jackson and his Virginians, who stood against the enemy like a "stone wall," earning Jackson his famous epithet. By the day's end, nearly 900 men lay dead and dying on what the day before had been the peaceful farms of Northern Virginia.

Portions of the battlefield within Manassas National Battlefield Park
Photograph courtesy of Shannon Bell

Thirteen months later the same armies, now much larger and battle hardened, would again clash over the same ground. Second Manassas, fought on August 28-30, 1862, cleared the way for Gen. Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North. This time, the destruction would be far greater, more than 23,000 killed, missing or wounded. The outcome of the second battle would lead to the Southern army's first full-scale invasion across the Potomac River into Maryland. Surviving landmarks include the Dogan house, a Union snipers' nest in 1862; the Stone House, a Union field hospital during both battles; and the stone bridge, blown up in 1861 but reconstructed in the 1880s.

The Manassas National Battlefield Park, administered by the National Park Service, is located along U.S. Rte. 29 in Manassas, the entrance to the visitors center is just south of Rte. 29 on State Rte. 234.. It is open in the summer 9:00am to 6:00pm daily and in the winter 9:00am to 5:00pm daily. Call 703-754-1861 for further information or visit the website.

The Manassas National Battlefield Park is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.


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