wilmer mc lean is an interesting character in american history. just prior to the battle of bull run confederate general p. g. t. beauregard 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 wilmer mc lean's house. during the battle mc lean's barn was a confederate field hospital. in 1862 mc lean and his family moved to appomattox courthouse to escape the fighting of the civil war. 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' parlor. after the surrender mc lean stated "these armies tore my place on bull run all to pieces, so i just sold out and came here, two hundred miles away, hoping 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." today 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 site of wilmer mc lean's house is at the intersection of VA 28 north and yorkshire lane in manassas park about five miles northeast of downtown manassas.
on august 27 th 1862 general thomas jackson's troops invaded manassas junction and seized union general pope's supply depot. after a day of wild feasting by jackson's troops, jackson burned the union supplies and moved northwest to groveton near the old manassas (bull run) battlefield. this raid was the first engagement of the second battle of manassas. pictured is the 1914 manassas depot in the modern day town of manassas.
The size and landscape diversity of the Manassas National Battlefield Park, along with the easily accessed trails make it a prime spot for birding. In the Nature/Science Center in the park, tabulations are kept of the most frequently sighted wildlife.
Almost any of the "trails" that are away from heavy visitor traffic will yield good birding spots.
Highlighted areas are:
The New York Volunteers Monument has a combination of woods and fields.
West of the Stuart Hill Visitor Center is a trail (by the power company).
The Stone Bridge and down through Bull Run is a good area of mixed terrain for viewing.
You can expect to see sparrrow, flycatchers, swallows,warblers, a few towhee and thrushes.
The park is generally quiet and makes a pleasant walk, but wear appropriate footwear if it has been raining previous to your visit because the ground drainage is poor and gets a bit mucky.
to get there:
I-66 to US29 exit (Warrenton turnpike and Lee Highway), see park signs
or I-66 to route 234 exit (Manassas Road), go north to park
Just across the Lee Highway from the New York monuments is a cemetery dedicated by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1866 to serve as a more permanent monument to the many dead soldiers of the South that had fallen on the Manassas’ fields. The soldiers were re-interred from temporary wartime gravesites and over 200 were buried here. Of the 200 only two have known identities. The habit of pinning your name on the inside of your clothes becoming more of a way of life as the War went on. The men are buried in areas of the Cemetery by State.
The battle raged to the north on the unfinished railroad as Pope fixated on the railroad, but he failed to ascertain a new Confederate infantry corps had reached the scene -that of Gen. James Longstreet. Robert Lee had wanted Longstreet to attack Pope on Aug 29, but Longstreet demurred saying the time wasn’t right. It was the next day, much to the horror of these New Yorkers. Two of the units were Zouaves, outfitted in the French style -the 10th and the 5th. The 10th New York sent out skirmishers that afternoon and ran right into the vanguard of Longstreet’s entire corps losing 30% of their force this black day. Even worse, the 5th New York lost 359 men out of 462 in just five minutes - the largest loss of any single regiment in the entire War. The regiment was named the Duryee’s Zouaves after their founder, Col. Abraham Duryee. Col. Governeur Warren took the 5th into battle this day in command. Rallying some 60 survivors, with the colors still in possession, on Henry Hill to the east. Col. Warren met LTC Jacob Duryee of the 2nd Maryland there (Jacob was Abraham’s son and had served as a captain under Warren) and cried out, “Jake, the old Fifth has been annihilated!” Duryee said, “I could plainly see tears came from his eyes as he put spur to his horse … to report this dire disaster.” Duryee would meet his own disaster at Burnside Bridge at Antietam in a mere three weeks. Warren went on to eventually command a Union corps, being involved in a very questionable struggle with Generals Grant and Sheridan at the end of the Battle of Five Forks near the War’s end. For a descriptive account of the 5th’s fight go to Zouave. The other monument you find up here is to the 14th Brooklyn. They will be heard from again at Gettysburg - where they have three other monuments!
From the Visitor Center, drive north on Sudley Road/VA 234 past the Stone House - outside which Union Gen. John Pope set up his headquarters during the Second Manassas - and head up over Matthews Hill, reversing the direction Federals attacked from during the First Manassas. You will see a turnout just before the Sudley Church which is where an unfinished railroad - and the left of Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s line - intersected the road. The bed of the railroad was used by Jackson’s corps as a natural defense line which brigade after brigade of Union troops which launched at on August 29 and 30. Turn left after the Church onto Featherbed Lane/VA 622 and drive along the small graveled road which parallels the unfinished railroad behind the Confederate positions. You can get out and walk the old railbed seeing for yourself where Pope’s attraction to this line not only increased Union casualty lists, but set himself up for the disaster about to occur on his extended - and lightly defended - left flank.
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