It Was A Lovely Day For A Picnic in Manassas, Virginia

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Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executives
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Manassas Battlefield Cannon

But A Sad Day For America


The day was July 21, 1861 (150 years ago) in Manassas Junction, Virginia. The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter on 4/12/1861. However, the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run) was the first major encounter between the Union and Confederate troops.

President Lincoln was concerned that the 32,000 Confederate troops at Manassas presented a threat to the nation's capital city. He ordered an assault by 29,000 Union troops. It was believed victory would be swift and the troops would then easily take Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy.

Many civilians packed a picnic basket, grabbed their blankets and went to watch the "skirmish."

The battle was not going well for the Confederates until two Virginia units commanded by Brigadier General Jackson and Colonel Stuart rallied the troops at Henry Hill, captured the Union artillery and the defeat was under way. Both the picnickers and Union troops made a hasty withdrawal across Bull Run. His determination to stand, rally his troops and turn the course of battle earned Jackson the nickname "Stonewall"

Although it was not the deadliest battle of the war it made President Lincoln realize it would be a long war.

The one day toll

  • 2,896 Union casualties
  • 1,982 Confederate casualties

By the time of Lee's surrender more than 630,000 Americans had been killed - more than any other war in our nation's history. The country's population was only 30 million at the time.

The Confederate victory at First Manassas (Bull Run) was in defense of a morally indefensible economic principle.

Parlor of McLean House



General Grant met with General Lee in the parlor of the McLean house in the town of Appomattox Courthouse on April 8, 1865 to accept the Confederate surrender, only 120 miles from the first Confederate victory at Manassas.



Arthur and I visited the battlefield recently. The first thing you notice is the high level of activity at the Visitor's Center, but as soon as you leave and step onto the battlefield there is almost absolute silence.

People walk slowly and talk in hushed tones. Children don't run all over the open fields. The very nature of the site commands respect for the American blood that was spilled here. It makes no difference whether it was Confederate or Union and it is the same at any Civil War battlefield. Once you realize the artillery that is displayed was aimed at Americans by Americans the feeling of revulsion is instant. You are very aware you are walking on hallowed ground where thousands of young Americans lay dead, dying or severely wounded.

While there we made the video below. The first clip is Jackson on his horse at Henry Hill looking northward. The next two clips are of Confederate artillery pieces aimed northward The farmland at the split rail fence and beyond is the view from the Henry farmhouse looking north. The Henry farmhouse was destroyed during the battle, but was rebuilt in 1870. The last clip is Jackson's view in the direction of Union troops from Henry Hill, Of course, there are Union artillery pieces barely visible at the treeline facing south. At the time of the battle there were no trees.



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The Kruschkas are long term Prince William County residents with more than 30 years experience as real estate professionals serving Woodbridge, Manassas, Dumfries, Manassas Park, Bristow, Brentsville, Gainesville and Haymarket

Experience Isn’t Expensive – It’s PRICELESS

If you plan to buy or sell a Prince William County home or property contact Karen and Art by Email or call us at 703-499-9279. Put our record of customer service, real estate experience and state-of-the-art technology to work for you in Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Stafford County or the entire Northern Virginia Area.

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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
- "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS"

Joni  I would enjoy seeing it featured - it was a very historic event

Jul 19, 2011 08:59 AM #30
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Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Karen-You and Art do a great job of mixing in the historical, cultural, and curent events in your area. The drums were a nice touch for this piece too.

Jul 19, 2011 03:14 PM #31
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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
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Wayne  We do try to cover motr than one topic

Jul 19, 2011 10:20 PM #32
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Kathryn Acciari
Cameron Real Estate Group - Shrewsbury, MA
RSPS, SRS, REALTOR(R) Sturbridge-Shrewsbury MA

A compelling slice of history, Karen.  It is hard to imagine people taking a picnic to watch a battle play out. 

Jul 20, 2011 12:27 AM #33
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Rebecca Gaujot
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Karen, great historical post and suggested. I've been to this National Park many times while working for the Federal Government.  It is an awesome place to visit.

Jul 20, 2011 12:56 AM #34
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Karen Kruschka
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Kathryn  It is, but it wasn't expected to be anything more thsn a skirmish

Jul 20, 2011 01:49 AM #35
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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
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Rebecca  Arthur and I have been to most of the battle areas over the years.  Thank you for suggesting

Jul 20, 2011 01:51 AM #36
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Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate

Karen,

I am late getting here, but could not pass this up:

"Many civilians packed a picnic basket, grabbed their blankets and went to watch the "skirmish." "

A spectator sport that led to 630,000 deaths, and countless casualties and ruination.  What a sad time.

 

I have visited Gettysburg several times, as well as Lookout Mountain TN, and have always come away quiet and sad, pondering the waste.

Wonderful post and thank you!

Jul 20, 2011 03:28 AM #37
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Larry Atkins
State Wide Realty Co. - Farmville, VA

Karen, I have been planning on writing a post about the surrender grounds for a while, just haven't got around to it yet.  It is a very unique place and you are right the battlefield is very quiet and somber compared to the hustle and bustle found in the "village". Sounds like you enjoyed your visit.

Jul 20, 2011 05:11 AM #38
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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
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Mike  We have been to Gettysburg and Harper's Ferry, but want to go to Chancellorsville and Antietam.  The effect is the same at all of them

Jul 20, 2011 05:25 AM #39
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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
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Larry  We have made frequent visits to the battlefield

Jul 20, 2011 05:26 AM #40
Rainer
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Julissa Jumper
Select Properties of Fayetteville, LLC - Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville, NC Real Estate

Hi Karen: Oh, I love this post, but then, I'm a soft touch for any stories of the Civil War. It's so hard to imagine the cost of that war, but the heroics and the outcome define what we are as Americans, and I love to read about it!

Thanks for a great refresher.

Jul 20, 2011 01:48 PM #41
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Jen Bowman
Keller Williams on the Water - Holmes Beach, FL
Realtor - Anna Maria Island & Bradenton FL
Karen, This is a really informative post. I didn't know that there were spectators having picnics there. Who would think to do that??? Thanks for the history lesson.
Jul 20, 2011 03:43 PM #42
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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
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Julissa  We can't avoid the tragedy here in the eastern atates that were impacted

Jul 20, 2011 11:23 PM #43
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Karen Kruschka
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Jen  Stupid ideas are not necessarily new

Jul 20, 2011 11:25 PM #44
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Tamara Inzunza
RE/MAX Executives - Alexandria, VA
Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living

Drove by some of the fields yesterday when I was in Manassas!  Looking forward to taking a tour one day with the family.  Great post Karen!

Jul 21, 2011 10:19 AM #45
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Karen Kruschka
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Tamara  You will find it very interesting

Jul 21, 2011 11:08 AM #46
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Gloria Todor
Century 21 Absolute Realty - Springfield, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686

Hi Karen, It is amazing the quiet that does come across visitors to such battlefields.  I did not know about the people on the side lines enjoying a picnic....

Good video.

Take care,

Gloria

Jul 21, 2011 03:38 PM #47
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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
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Gloria  thank you for visiting and commenting - love hearing it from a history buff

Jul 21, 2011 11:14 PM #48
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Rene Fabre
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I love it when you share East Coast History... I love history and enjoy sharing it in my blogs and I'm alway's amazed how much further back in time the East Coast goes.... So much of our history here on the West Coast dates from the 1850's onwards... Even though this is about the 1860's and Lewis & Clark headed out west in 1804, we were the wild and wooly west and still unsettled... Great post!

Aug 21, 2013 11:40 AM #49
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