most visitors to manasas come to see the manassas national battlefield. the battlefield is located nine miles north of downtown on sudley road (VA 234). for those interested in civil war history this is a must see site in northern virginia. for more information see my manassas national battlefield pages for a virtual tour of the battlefield.
wilmer mc lean is an interesting character in american history. just prior to the first battle of bull run confederate general p. g. t. beauegard made mc lean's plantation his headquarters. on july 18 th 1861 some of the first shots of the battle of bull run were fired on mc lean's house. during the battle mc lean's barn was used as a confederate field hospital. in 1862 mc lean and his family moved to appomattox courthouse to escape the fighting in northern virginia. the war caught up with mc lean in 1865 when general robert e. lee surrendered his army of northern virginia to general u. s. grant in wilmer mc lean's parlor. after the surrender mc lean stated, " these armies tore my place on bull run to pieces, so i sold out and came here, two hundred miles away, hopeing i should never see a soldier again, now just look around you ! not a fence rail in place, the last guns trampled down all my crops, and lee surrenders in my house." sadly, the site of wilmer mc lean's house has not been preserved and there is only a historic marker in a CVS pharmacy parking lot.
the hopkins candy factory was established in 1900. the factory was destroyed by fire in 1905 and the current factory building was built in 1907. today this historic building is home to the center of the arts of greater manassas. the candy factory hosts frequent art exhibitions.
in july 1911 the manassas national jubilee of peace brought together union and confederate veterans to commemorate the 50 th anniversary of the first battle of manassas. at this site president william taft gave a speech to the veterans.
pictured is the fifth prince william county courthouse built in 1897. this courthouse was in constant operation from 1897 to 1983 when the current courthouse was constructed. the old courthouse is most famous as the site of the 1911 manassas national peace jubilee. today the courthouse can be rented for private functions. the old prince william county courthouse is listed on the national register of historic places.
the manassas museum is a good place to learn about the history of the virginia piedmont area. they have displays and relics explaining the history and culture of manassas. the museum store has an excellent collection of books for sale relating to the civil war in virginia.
located in the historic manassas railroad depot is the manassas visitor center. at the visitor center you can get a walking map of manassas' historic district and information on area hotels, shops, and restaurants. the visitor center also has a small museum on railroad history. a good first stop on a visit to manassas and the manassas national battlefield.
Two of the most decisive battles of the Civil War were fought in the Manassas area. Sometimes they are referred to as Battles of Manassas but I am more used to hearing them referred to as the Battles of Bull Run. There was a lot of carnage in both instances but there was at least one positive outcome which resulted from the first of those battles.
That positive outcome was the development of combat medical care, and that advancement took root right at the beginning, with the war's first major conflict, the First Battle of Manassas (or Bull Run).
Last month (the third weekend in May, 2011, the Ben Lomond Historic Site, a former plantation situated near the battlefield, was rededicated as the Pringle Hospital. The homeplace of the Pringle Plantation began its transformation in 1861 when it became a hospital for the Confederate Army's Stonewall Brigade—though Union soldiers also used the when they controlled this part of the battlespace—and a 1980s remodeling project uncovered penciled graffiti on the walls that remain visible.
New exhibits at this historical site chronicle the experiences of the medical staff, soldiers, and civilians who occupied the hospital, and will include living historians, a look at the lives of slaves who lived on the plantation, Civil War-era medical demonstrations, original medical displays, and a hands-on educational tent.
If you are going to be in the region (Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, or even Maryland, there is going to be a commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run, July 21st-24th. On the 23rd, a Special evening tour will offer a glimpse into the heroic efforts and the chaos of a field hospital during the American Civil War. There are four tours beginning at 6:30 and continuing at 30 minute intervals until 8 PM. Tickets are $10 and there is a limit of 15 persons per tour. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact:
Ben Lomond Historic Site at 703-367-7872 or email@example.com
Here is the ideal starting point for a visit to Manassas. Learn what the town has to offer. It's still a working rail station; Amtrak offers regular service to Washington during the work week. It also has some interesting exhibits, a lot of good brochures, and a helpful staff to provide information. It's open daily, 9:00 to 5:00, except Christmas, New Year's, and Thanksgiving.
Note: The cover for a Crosby Stills and Nash album was shot here.
Downtown Manassas offers a number of attractions. One can see where the Confederate defenses once stood, although there is very little left of them.
The Prince William County Courthouse is where the 50th anniversary of the First Battle was commemorated in July 1911. Veterans of both sides got together and reconciled.
Another point of interest is City Hall. Notice the old-style fire alarm. One would alert firemen by picking up the hammer and banging on this old locomotive tire, producing a noise that could be heard all over town.
Two battles were fought here, in 1861 and 1862. The First Battle of Manassas was nearly a defeat for the Confederates. But then General Thomas Jackson arrived on the scene with his Virginia infantry, who stopped the Union troops. Another Rebel general pointed to Jackson's men and said they were standing fast, "like a stone wall". And so Jackson acquired the nickname Stonewall.
After a very bloody fight, the Confederates won. The center of the fighting was Henry Hill, where a lone farmhouse stood. Inside, Judith Henry, an elderly woman, refused to budge. After the battle, her body was found under the bed. Today, the house stands next to a monument to the Union troops who also fell during this terrible battle.
The Second Battle was fought in 1862. Again, the Confederates won. It was the first indication that they just might win the war. By the way, the Yankees refer to this as the Battle of Bull Run, after nearby Bull Run Creek.
To better understand the battle, and obtain information on the walking and driving tours, please go to the Visitors Center first. Also, be sure to examine the displays inside.
If you are into history, especially Civil War history, or just a nature lover, you must visit the Manassas Battlefield Park.
There are miles of hiking trails and a driving tour. The visitor center has good information on the first and second battles fought on the terrain and a small gift shop. Also, if you visit early in the morning or near sunset chances are you will see some of the herds of deer that populate the countryside.
Every Saturday, from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, local farmers sell their produce here. It's also a great place to socialize and people-watch.
In this old candy factory, dating to 1908, is a modest art gallery. Most of the works are photos by local artists. It also has youth activities, performing arts, and more.