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Manassas National Battlefield
On a hazy, hot Sunday, July 21, 1861, many Washingtonians packed up their picnic blankets and lunches and headed to Virginia, to bluffs overlooking a creek known as Bull Run to watch what they believed would be the opening and closing battle of the Civil War.
Their surety of an early Union victory was dashed, however, when the evenly matched forces—18,572 for the Union and 18,053 for the Confederacy—clashed along the river, resulting in a victory for the South. Roughly 4,700 Americans died in that first battle, marked today as Manassas National Battlefield (intersection of Sudley Rd./Rte. 234 and Lee Hwy./U.S. 29, Manassas, Va., 703/361-1339, www.nps.gov/mana, daily 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., $3 adults, free under age 17).
This site of the first major land battle of the Civil War is among the most endangered of Virginia’s battlefields; located amid the urban sprawl of Manassas, park officials and local preservationists have fought hard to maintain the views from the visitors center, a tree-lined horizon similar to the rural landscape of 1861.
The park has miles of easy walking trails that pass through rolling farmland and forest and follows an unfinished railroad used repeatedly by Stonewall Jackson and his troops.
© Patricia Nevins Kime from Moon Washington DC, 1st Edition