On-line Book
Cover book to Battling for Manassas: The Fifty-Year Preservation Struggle at Manassas National Battlefield Park. [Image of cannon in the battlefield]
Battling for Manassas: The Fifty-Year Preservation Struggle at Manassas National Battlefield Park


Table of Contents




current topic Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11


Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

Appendix IV

Appendix V (omitted from on-line edition)

Appendix VI

Appendix VII

Appendix VIII

Chapter 1
National Park Service Arrowhead

Early Preservsation Efforts



Nearly eighty years elapsed from the first attempt to memorialize the Manassas battlefields in 1861 with the Bartow monument to the 1940 establishment of the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Many factors contributed to this delay. Preservation of battlefields became a popular idea at the turn of the century, and Manassas competed with several other battlefields for designation as a national military park. With the increased numbers of possible parks, Congress had to consider the costs involved and therefore displayed reluctance in automatically approving a proposal. Since this legislative body made the final decision to establish a military park, sites having the vigorous support of individual members of Congress had a better chance for success. In the case of Manassas, local residents, Civil War veterans, and a few local Virginia representatives campaigned for its protection. Additional congressional support was weak, possibly because Manassas represented two stunning Confederate victories. This sectionalism translated into political votes, with largely Democratic-supporting Confederate veterans at odds with Republican presidential administrations and a Republican House in the first decade of the twentieth century. The power-wielding North found it easier to support preservation of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, for example, because these battles were turning points that helped to determine the war's outcome—the preservation of the Union.

While obstacles clearly existed in creating Manassas National Battlefield Park, citizens and their representatives supported the protection of former battlegrounds as a way to reestablish national unity and preserve a sense of the past. As a response to the expansive nationalism in the United States during the 1890s popular opinion swung toward preserving former battlefields. Chickamauga and Chattanooga, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Antietam became the original battlefield parks and, in the process, created a unified system. They provided criteria for the future inclusion of other historic areas, including examination of campaign strategy, losses suffered, armies involved, and overall significance of the battle to the welfare of the nation. As Congress expanded its consideration for battlefield parks to the Revolutionary War and other non-Civil War military encounters, it continued to debate the possibility of setting aside the Manassas landscape. [1]

Examination of some of the early steps taken toward preservation of the Manassas battlefields helps establish why this site was significant to Americans following the Civil War. This information, in turn, lays a foundation for understanding the mission of the eventual national park, since ideas about its preservation shaped its administration. Early preservation attempts varied from individuals making regular pilgrimages to the battlefields to Congress reviewing legislative proposals. A summary of the most important events relating to preservation from the 1890s to the 1920s helps to highlight the reasons why the Manassas battlefields warranted protection by the federal government.


CONTINUED continued


History | Links to the Past | National Park Service | Search | Contact


National Park Service's ParkNet Home