The first major confrontation of the Civil War occurred on July 21, 1861 at Bull Run Creek near Manassas, Virginia. Due to its proximity to Washington, D.C., civilians drove their carriages down to picnic and watch the spectacle of 34,000 men trying to kill each other. It was on Henry Hill that Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson earned his nickname when he refused to flee in the face of a Union advance. In the north it was known as the Battle of Bull Run and run they did when Confederate reinforcements arrived to take the field. The next year there was another fight here, which the southern army also won on its march north before being turned back at Antietam.
Museum, film, “Stonewall” Jackson statue, cannons, Stone House
As with other battlefield sites, Manassas National Battlefield Park has a National Park Service (NPS) visitor center with a movie, maps, driving tour, and hiking trails. Start in the museum, as the fiber-optic maps with recorded narration are one of the best ways to understand the events of each battle. The first of the two Battles of Bull Run took place around the visitor center on Henry Hill. The second battle was spread across the landscape and is the focus of the 18-mile driving tour.
Cannons line the one-mile hiking trail on Henry Hill, where one of the first civilian casualties of the Civil War occurred in a house that was rebuilt in 1870 and still stands.
General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson earned his nickname at the first battle at Manassas. We understand that Confederate statues are justifiably controversial, but this is one place that they actually belong.
Exercise caution as the 18-mile driving tour goes through residential areas with a couple unpaved roads.
There is not an NPS campground, but nearby Bull Run Regional Park has 150 sites with RV hookups.
Antietam National Battlefield (Maryland)
Fredericksbug and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park (Virginia)
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park (Virginia)
Explore More – What state has a memorial to its troops on the spot where 123 men were killed in five minutes on August 30, 1862 (which was the greatest loss of life in any single infantry regiment in a Civil War battle)?