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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Visiting Manassas National Battlefield Park

[Today's Throwback Thursday entry goes back to a post I'd originally published in June 2014. It was one of my first posts on this blog. For this version I added a new photo and a few other tweaks.]

Sandwiched between the bustle of Washington, D.C. and the serenity of the Shenandoah Valley region of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies Manassas National Battlefield Park. The park, located in Northern Virginia, is the site where two prominent battles occurred during the Civil War. The first battle of Manassas, commonly known as the First Battle of Bull Run, occurred over these fields on July 21, 1861, the Second Battle of Bull Run took place in August 1862.

Today, this national park commemorates these historical events in American History. The park is mostly a quiet and tranquil place, and one which hasn't been tarnished by the heavy commercialism which sometimes accompanies historical landmarks. NPS has done a grand job preserving its history and integrity, despite being located in such a heavily populated region. 


Manassas Battlefield Park as it looked in May 2015
Within the park's confines it's dignified and focused on history, although two major roads do cross through the park areas.

Manassas Battlefield
Manassas Battlefield Park on a winter's day


There is much to see during your visit to Manassas Battlefield Park; the park itself spans several miles. When you arrive at the park, you can go to the visitor's center to purchase a visitor's pass. It currently costs $3.00 per adult (kids under 16 are free) and the pass is good for 3 days. You can even start your visit right on the grounds where the visitor's center is located. There is a museum, the monument of General "Stonewall" Jackson, cannons, and other historic landmarks, most notably, the Henry House. The fields are open and resemble the way they probably looked during the Civil War era.

Across the way from the visitor's area sits Stone House. This is a fascinating part of the tour because during the battle it served as a field hospital in both Civil War battles that occurred at Manassas.


Stone House at Manassas Battlefield Park
Exterior of Stone House at Manassas Battlefield Park

It also has an interesting history because not only was it a residential home for many decades, in its historical roots had also served as a tavern. During the warmer months, you can tour Stone House; the park volunteers give a wonderful oratory history as you walk through the rooms. Everything has been restored to the way it would have looked during the Civil War era. The second floor is usually off limits to visitors, but occasionally is open for visitors.

Stone House at Manassas Battlefield
Interior of Stone House

To tour the park, you can take a self-guided walking tour. There is the Henry Hill tour which is approximately a mile, the First Manassas tour which is a five mile loop, and the Second Manassas tour which is also approximately five miles. Each tour covers major points of each of the Manassas battles. You can also take an opportunity for a tour with Park Ranger guided hikes or you can opt to take a 16-mile driving tour on your own. Stop by the Visitor's Center to check out the times for ranger-led tours, usually they are daily.

The park also possesses many walking paths and several picnic areas; pets are allowed on the grounds as long as they remain leashed and held at all times. Highlights include Stone Bridge, Unfinished Railroad, Chinn Ridge and Brawner Farm.

Manassas National Battlefield Park is open daily until sunset, but the houses and buildings close between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. It's a good idea to check with NPS schedules to determine what time each building closes. Seasonal hours and special events may vary these times. You can find specific information at http://www.nps.gov/mana.

This park is interesting and contains many vital pieces of information regarding Civil War history. If you are in the Northern Virginia area, it's definitely worth it to set aside some time and come visit.

[Related reading: Civil War battlefields in Virginia]

2 comments:

  1. I used to ride my horse through the park and it was really neat. Growing up, we always called it "The war between the States". Its a beautiful area. Unfortunately, DC sprawl has made it way as far out as Rt 15.

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    1. Just drove through Route 15 this weekend - every time I am out there on any highway, seems there is more and more construction in Loudoun going on.

      Must have been nice growing up in this area when it was mostly farmland. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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