Thursday, June 26, 2014

Walking Manassas Battlefield.


I took some time yesterday morning to do some historical touring ---

You know me and history, if it is anywhere near by I just HAVE to check it out.

Of course, I could choose to check it out when the morning was already 91 degrees, hot and heavy with humidity.  That gave me a lot of food for thought into what both sides of soldiers went through when they clashed here in the first battle of Manassas, also known as Bull Run, July 21, 1861.

And soldiers wore wool.  And carried all of that stuff.

And I was in capris and a tshirt and running shoes ---dripping wet with sweat and heat within 10 minutes of getting outside of the airconditioned comfort of my car.

And mostly, those soldiers ---were hardly more than boys.


Imagine them facing off across open fields like this.


Or standing behind a cannon like this to aim at their opposition.


I walked from monument to monument, contemplating.


And imagined soldiers gathered beneath great shady tree limbs, not only to shade them from the brutal heat of a Virginia July, but it helped hide them in tall grasses so they were harder to be seen.

This battle happened so quickly that there was no time to build ramparts, they just used whatever terrain they could as protection – trees, bushes, fences and uneven ground became their trenches.


Farmland was invaded --

The story goes that Judith Henry, in her 80s and an invalid, refused to leave her bed as her home was occupied during the fighting at Bull Run.  She lost her life to cannon fire when soldiers aimed their artillery at the men shooting out from Judith’s upstairs windows.  She became collateral damage.  She is buried here in front of her house:


Henry Family Markers


Judith’s stone with her story, illegible.


I hiked trails following the fence line and came across these beautiful thistles waving tall in the welcoming breeze --


The bee liked the thistle too!


Heading toward the old stone house across the way


The old stone house stood through both Manassas battles, and was an icon known by soldiers from both sides.


Stone house during the war


Front of house with well --

So here I am, crawling over fences and around pieces of property a bit precarious – this angle of the house and the well is right at the corner of two busy crossroads on Lee Highway!

I finished my photos, and was waiting to cross at the light when a woman, stopped at the red light close to me in a burgundy minivan, rolls down her window and says “Are you Bonnie Hunter?!  I read on your blog that you were planning to be here today but I didn’t think I’d get to see you!” 

How funny is that?  We talked for the duration of her red light, and when it turned green I waved her on her way and I returned up the hill.


Who would think I’d have a drive by welcome at this intersection!?


Stonewall Jackson standing tall, keeping watch over those who gave their lives here.

It was just an amazing experience.  I will always take the opportunity to stop and reflect on those who gave everything, no matter which side of the war they were on.  They were someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s sweetheart, someone’s father ---so much was lost from both sides, and may we never forget.

Today I’m tapping these words out while sitting at the kitchen table of my friend Mary Koval ---we have plans to do some shopping this morning, getting ready for our weekend of fun coming up.  We’ve both got massage appointments out at Bedford Springs, a place I adore – so historic, and reminds me of the Pennsylvania version of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac – photos to come!

Enjoy your Thursday, everyone!  It’s the last one we will ever have in June 2014!

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  1. Thanks for the photo tour! I'd love to visit in person some day. Have a great day getting pampered.

  2. Enjoy your free day, Bonnie. I'm getting ready to see you and my QFFs this weekend. I can hardly concentrate on the work I need to do today!!!

  3. Anonymous10:29 AM EDT

    Thanks for the photos. My grandmother told the story that her grandmother told that part of the battle was fought in their apple orchard. They had emigrated west by 1861 and she never wanted to return becaue of the destruction.

  4. Tom and I spent a week walking battle sites in VA. It was very humbling, as you say, knowing what those boys went through on both sides. When you look back in time you realize we are all here by many freak accidents. Our ancestors survived battles, diseases and other untold tragedies for us to be born. Always gives me pause when thinking about life.

  5. Enjoy your time at the "springs", refresh and regroup. Bedford Springs is a wonderful place, my son's wedding was held there several years ago, we really enjoyed our time there. I will be sewing with you on Saturday, and really looking forward to meeting you!!!

  6. I loved the lines from the movie Remember the Titans filmed there.

  7. I live on Manassas Drive in a subdivision called Stonewall Farms. The developer loved Civil War history and other streets reflect parts of the battlefield. When giving my address, 99% of the time I have to spell Manassas for people. I always give it in two-letter chunks (MA-NA-SS-AS) rather than three-letter chunks because of how that would work out. :)

  8. What touching photographs. I would love to visit one day. Thank you for all your travel scenes, really makes me feel I am travelling with you.

  9. Thank you for sharing your trek on the battlefield, I agree I don't know how those poor soldiers survived the heat in wool!

  10. Striking picture of the stone house.

    Thanks for taking us across these fields and through this history.

  11. I agree with you Bonnie. Both sides lost so much and we should never forget.


  12. Thank you for this post I loved it , my husband and I and friends do CW Reenacting and love History!

  13. Hubby and I did the Bull Run battlefields mid June last year on a very comfy day . That and the confederate white house in Richmond, were the highlights of our 10 day trip touring places of civilwar history. The trip did include some quilty elements to lighten things up.

  14. Thanks for the mini history lesson. High of our post-retirement bucket list is a thorough visitation of the Cival War battlefields, hopefully in chronological order.

  15. Thank you for photos and info. We must continue to honor all those brave men who fought for our freedom. Lorna in Mn

  16. Bonnie I found this online about Judith Henry's tombstone~
    "The Grave of our Dear Mother
    Killed near this spot by the explosion of shells in her dwelling during the Battle of the 21st of July, 1861. When killed she was in her 85th year and confined to her bed by the infirmities of age. Her husband Dr. Isaac Henry was a Surgeon in the United States Navy on board the frigate Constellation, Commanded by Com. Truxton, one of the six Captains appointed by Washington in the organization of the Navy, 1794.

    Our Mother through her long life, thirty five years of which were spent at this place, was greatly loved and esteemed for her kind, gentle and Christian spirit."

    Only civilian casualty of the First Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia. Buried in the family cemetery outside the family's postwar home.

    Thought you would like it.

  17. I was just at this same spot on Sunday! Loved it and really enjoyed the film and the very Knowledgable guides.


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