Manassas, Virginia, was the site of the first major land battle of the US Civil War – the Battle of the Bull Run on July 21, 1861.
The battle began after Union troops attacked a considerably smaller Confederate detachment. But the rebels proved formidable opponents and eventually managed to force back the Union troops, who fled back to Washington DC. Confederate General Thomas J Jackson earned the moniker “Stonewall” for his role in forcing back the Union troops.
The battle was particularly significant as it made both sides realise the harsh realities of war and the ill-preparedness of both the generals and the troops. The site echoes of war in the same way I’d imagine the battlefields of northern France do. The Union troops had 3,000 of their number killed, injured or missing, while their Southern rivals saw losses of 2,000.
The house in the picture stands on the site of one which belonged to an old lady called Judith Henry and was caught in the crossfire. The widow died of blood loss the following day, but her daughter and a slave survived the attack – although the daughter was profoundly deafened by the constant crack of gunfire.The elderly widow’s death was the only civilian fatality of the battle. She is buried with her son and daughter at the site.
The two armies would meet again in the same area a year later for a much bigger battle, which again saw the Union troops pushed back – this time to losses of 23,000 troops (both sides).