The Battle of First Manassas (also known as the Battle of Bull Run) was the first large-scale battle of the war. In July of 1861, Brigadier General Irvin McDowell advanced on Confederate troops stationed at Manassas Junction, Virginia. Though initially successful, the introduction of Confederate reinforcements forced a retreat of Union troops back to Washington. It was during the Battle of First Manassas that Confederate Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson acquired his nickname "Stonewall." Brigadier General Barnard Bee used General Thomas J. Jackson's newly arrived brigade as a rallying point for his troops. Pointing to Jackson, Bee shouted, "There stands Jackson like a stone wall!"
The Battle of Second Manassas (Second Battle of Bull Run) occurred just over a year later (August, 1862) and pitted the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee against the Union Army of Virginia under Brigadier General John Pope. This battle was fought over three days (August 28-30) and produced far greater carnage than the first battle. The union had 10,199 men that were killed or wounded, and had 4,263 captured or missing; the Confederacy had 8,500 killed, wounded, captured, or missing. The southern victory was the high point of Lee's campaign against both General McClellan and Pope and brought the Confederacy to the height of its power, while completely clearing Virginia of federal troops.
The Park Today
Manassas National Battlefield Park includes Civil War exhibits, a 13-minute slide program (shown twice an hour), and a 5-minute battlefield map program. Guided tours and other programs are scheduled on a regular basis during the summer season and on the weekends during the remainder of the year (weather permitting). Other recommended activities include a self-guided walking tour of Henry Hill, a self-guided driving tour of the 2nd Battle of Manassas, and extended trail hikes covering both battlefields. At least two hours should be allowed to view the slide show, map program and walk the First Battle walking tour. At least four hours should be allowed to do a full tour of the park, but an entire day can be spent hiking trails and visiting the various historic sites within the park.
You can also take a virtual tour of the battlefields of Manassas while sitting at your computer. The First Manassas tour follows the trail along the top of Henry Hill, scene of the heaviest fighting of the battle. The Second Manassas tour traces the 12-mile driving tour covering the sights of the three day long battle.
The Manassas National Battlefield Park is located in Prince William and Fairfax counties, VA, 25 miles west of Washington DC. For further information, call the visitor center at 703-361-1339.
Other useful resources:
Civil War Time Line - Includes synopses of events during the Civil War, presented chronologically. Sponsored by the Civil War Network.
Civil War Parks - National parks, state parks, and other resources associated with the Civil War.
Friends of the Manassas National Battlefield Park - Concerned with preserving the park and promoting community involvement and volunteerism.
Virginia State Parks Division - Includes descriptive information on state parks, calendar of events, outdoor adventures, hunting, fishing, camping, and volunteer opportunities.
Virginia Tourism Division - Visitor's guide includes state facts & figures, historic sites & natural attractions, museums & exhibits, and multilingual search engine.