Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's Just a Man on a Horse

I've lived in the DC area for over two and half years now and I'd like to think I've seen to most of the big touristy items on the list - the museums, the Mall, the White House, Ben's Chili Bowl, etc. I've seen a play in Ford's Theatre, I've snuck my way through the Spy Museum. And yet, in nearly three years, I hadn't been out to visit Manassas and the Civil War Battle ground there.

To be fair, I've wanted to see where the Battles of Bull Run happened. Until last weekend, I had no idea it was the same place. Oops. Yay Yankee education! Turns out, pretty much all battles have two names. Really this shouldn't be a surprise...we couldn't agree on how to treat 20% of our people - do you really think we could have agreed on a name?

Saturday morning, Westley and I trekked out to the Battle grounds, paid our $3, and quite frankly, had a ball. Two very informative (and vastly different) walking tours and a rousing musket demonstration later, we marveled at the landscape and the pivotal battles that occurred right in his backyard a mere 140+ years ago.

Of all the amazing information gleaned from our day (how far a cannon can shoot [1800 yds] and how insanely hot the Union Army uniforms were [great Hades they're hot!]) the biggest trivia nugget I learned that day was the First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run is where this guy earned his nickname. Colonel Thomas J. Jackson joined the fight here and when told the enemy was over running his Confederate comrades, Jackson responded "then we will give them the bayonet." On the top of that hill, his troops hunkered down and stopped the Union advance, helping the Confederates to win the battle. At the top of the hill (just 50 yards from a very cool visitors center) this huge statue is there in his honor, Col. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

(sidebar- inside the visitor's center is one of the coolest battle displays ever -- it's a giant sculpted replica of the fields with little LED lights that not only show where each regiment was fighting but also whenever the narrator said a battle started, you could see the firefight in the little lights. Seriously cool and so worth the visit)

3 hours, two sunburns, and one perfect morning spent learning about our area's history later, we left the battle field filled with knowledge and so incredibly hungry. Want to know the next best thing I learned about Manassas that day? The location of Okras. Yum-o. And also, completely worth the trip. Nothing says 'hello perfect weekend' like state parks, jambalaya, and great company.

1 comment:

Kim said...

So, you will have to take me there someday. Don't worry, everything down here has two names...even people! Too bad the restaurant didn't have Boudain...that's the best!