Battle of Bull Run Remembered 150 Years Later

Sesquicentennial celebration for the Battle of Bull Run

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A statue of Stonewall Jackson atop his horse looks over Henry Hill at the battlefields of Manassas, or Bull Run as it was generally known in the North.

    One hundred fifty years ago, the Battle of Bull Run, also known as the Battle of Manassas, marked the first large-scale land battle of the Civil War.

    In celebration of the sesquicentennial, 10,000 re-enactors from around the country are converging on Manassas National Battlefield Park in Prince William County, Va., to bring the fight between the North and the South back to life.

    "I am commanding the federal cavalry contingent here at the living history event," said Steven Dunn, one of the Civil War re-enactors out on the battlefield today. "We'll be drilling. We'll be doing the best we can to portray soldiers."

    Despite the heat, the citizen soldier was dressed in a handmade coat with wooden buttons. Others were dressed in proper military uniform for the time period.

    Many of the actors were out on horseback around the battlefield gearing up for the big reenactments this Saturday and Sunday. The Civil War Trust explains that the aim of the bloody clash between the Confederate army and the Union army at Bull Run was to capture Richmond:

    "Though the Civil War began when Confederate troops shelled Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, the war didn’t begin in earnest until the Battle of Bull Run, fought in Virginia just miles from Washington D.C., on July 21, 1861.

    Popular fervor led President Lincoln to push a cautious Brigadier General Irvin McDowell, commander of the Union army in Northern Virginia, to attack the Confederate forces commanded by Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard, which held a relatively strong position along Bull Run, just northeast of Manassas Junction.

    The goal was to make quick work of the bulk of the Confederate army, open the way to Richmond, the Confederate capital, and end the war."

    Despite the scorching temperatures expected through the weekend, up to 100,000 spectators are expected for this four-day anniversary celebration in Manassas.

    Many history buffs are hoping the event will spark the interest of those more likely to watch a reenactment on YouTube rather than out at the battlefield.

    "It's a function of educating the public mostly young people because most young people don't care about history but this is a good introduction," said re-enactor Patrick Gorman.

    It's a sentiment shared by Debbie Haight of Historic Manassas Incorporated, who hopes the event will spark an interest in our nation's history and to remember lessons learned.

    "The fact that brother fought against brother. The fact that they put guns to each other -- even though you are my neighbor, you are wearing the wrong color. There is a huge significance to it. I think we've learned a lot from that."


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