Friday, July 8, 2011

Bull Run Battlefields

Bull Run Battlefields, Marker C-31  Prince William Co., VAPrince William County, VA
Marker No.

Marker Text: Just to the east were fought the two battles of Manassas or Bull Run.

Location: In Gainesville, VA in front of a VA Department of Transportation office on U.S. Route 29 (Lee Highway), on the right when traveling east. Grouped with three other markers C-27 (Second Battle of Manassas); C-33 (Rock Fight); and C-28 (Campaign of Second Manassas). Erected by the Conservation & Development Commission in 1934.

  Today's marker is one of the earlier markers with a very brief historical description related to both the First and Second Battles of Manassas or as the marker states, “Bull Run Battlefields”. First Manassas occurred in July, 1861, one hundred and fifty years ago and the Second Battle of Manassas occurred thirteen months later at the end of August 1862.

Bull Run Battlefields Marker C-31 grouped with others  This marker does have a similar counterpart, No. C-19 near the city of Fairfax, VA about eight miles on the other side of the battlefields. The custom during the Civil War for naming a battle depended upon whether you favored the north or south. In the north, battles were generally named for the closest stream, creek or river (therefore Bull Run Battlefield) or in the south, battles were generally named for the closest town, (therefore, First Battle of Manassas) though the naming of battles did not always remain consistent.

  The construction of Interstate 66 and the redevelopment and relocation of many of the connecting roads over the years has changed the character of the terrain around the battle areas. Fortunately, the National Park Service maintains the Manassas Battlefield Park, which preserves the major geography sites of these battles for the present day visitor. This marker has been moved from its original 1934 location, which was in the middle of what is now the interchange entrance and exits for Interstate 66 and U.S. Route 29. The marker is now about 1 1/2 miles west of its original location, but still within the general area of the two battles.

  The marker briefly mentions two different Civil War Battles that share little in common other than their relative shared location. While only 13 months passes between the two battles a great deal transpired during those early months of the Civil War. Many soldiers on both sides thought that a quick victory during this first battle of the war would decide the issue and they would be on their way home soon.  During the next thirteen months both armies developed into battle hardened troops who were no longer na├»ve enough to think the war would end anytime soon, as they once again meet on the fields of Manassas.

Bull Run Battlefields marker on U.S. Route 29 west of battlefield.

Photo taken looking west on U.S. Route 29 toward Warrenton, VA, marker is grouped with three others related to the Second Battle of Manassas or Bull Run.

  From the beginning of the conflict both sides recognized the strategic importance of Virginia in developing a military plan for either side. Manassas was a key military target due to the junction with two important railroad lines running to southern Virginia and west to the Shenandoah Valley. Later this area of northern Virginia would play a major role in the activities of Col. John S. Mosby in disrupting federal supplies and troop movements.

  Most state historical markers either deal with the First or Second Battles of Manassas specifically. While some markers explain actions for both battles due to their role in the development of both battles. I have several markers related to both battles and I will be sharing these along with the brief history related to each marker. Adequately explaining the actions and events related to these two battles only through markers would be difficult to achieve successfully in this blog, but I hope to heighten your interest in digging deeper. There are endless resources, narratives and descriptions of every battle during the Civil War available by doing a simple internet search. You can also find many fine books for purchase at the visitor's center at all the battle sites.

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