Last weekend, we went to visit my husband’s brother and family in Virginia. Before we came down, we did a little research about what we wanted to do and see when we were in their area. I really had no idea what was around them, so Google I did!
The thing that really caught my eye was the Manassas Civil War battlefields. Growing up in Pennsylvania, we took a field trip to Gettysburg in elementary school, but I had never been to any other Civil War battlefields.
What I did not realize, is that the battlefields are spread out over a large area. While there are trails to walk through the entire area, it was very hot and humid on the day of our adventure. So we drove to some of the landmarks and walked around a bit at each.
At the Henry Hill Visitor Center, which is where I recommend beginning your exploration, there is a 45 minute movie explaining what happened in the battles at Manassas. I highly recommend taking the time to watch that movie. I really had no idea what happened at the battles, or what I was even looking at, but the movie helped introduce me to how the battles unfolded and some important landmarks.
Among the fields marked by split log fences were mowed walking trails. I do not know how long it takes to walk the trails, but I recommend leaving yourself plenty of time to see things if you intend to hike it all!
The other thing I recommend is bringing some sort of bug spray. I make my own, (you can find the recipe here), but I forgot to bring it. My husband found a tick crawling on him after about 10 minutes of walking around outside. Because the grass is high around the paths, there are critters hanging out everywhere!
At a few of the locations, there are walking tours available at certain times throughout the day. We did not go on any of these, but I am certain the tour guides are very knowledgeable and this would be a great way to learn all that you can from your trip.
Along with the hiking trails, there is a driving tour that goes by 12 important landmarks from the war. These are indicated on the map we were given at the Visitors’ Center.
The part that I found most fascinating were the buildings that have been standing since the Civil War. We visited three houses that had significance in the battles that took place there.
There was a stone house used as a field hospital that had 2 cannonballs and 3 mortar shells embedded in its walls. Some of the parts of the house were redone, but the majority was original.
Upstairs, there were names and initials soldiers carved in the floorboards. Just the thought of standing on the same floor as soldiers from 250 years ago gave me chills.
Here are some other pictures from our trip.
While this can be a somber trip, it is also very educational if you are interested in the history of our nation.