Before the wedding on Saturday, I set out with John, my dad, my cousin Halley and her fiance Josh, to explore the historical sites of Manassas, VA. As I mentioned earlier, Manassas was the site of two major Civil War battles, and nerdy as it may be, visiting Civil War Battlefields is one of my favorite vacation activities.
The volunteers at the visitors center sent us down the road to a couple of stops on the driving tour. The first was Stone House, an old building that was once a tavern. It was used as a make-shift hospital during the second battle, since it was near a couple of main roads and had 18" stone walls for protection.
It had a lot of your standard historical-site stuff inside - a room set up for dinner as it might have been in 1861, an old chair by the window in the hall. The restored the bar area of the tavern.
They also had some replicas of old posters, courtesy of the local historical society. This one was my personal favorite:
The bigger of the two upstairs rooms was where they put a lot of injured soldiers. Halley sort of prodded this old-timey stretcher with her foot, but I couldn't get her to lie down in it.
After we'd seen enough of Stone House, we headed to another battlefield spot where we'd heard there would be some demonstrations, commemorating the anniversary of the second battle.
These guys were dressed up as Union soldiers, and demonstrated the various features of their rifles. Their leader, the guy in front, obviously knew a lot about all their equipment and the gory details of the battle. But he talked...and talked...as hot Virginia sun beat down on us. The longer he talked, the less I was interested.
We were all thinking, "Come on, shoot something already."
Finally, they fired their guns.
Then these guys came around to tell us about the cavalry regiments.
They demonstrated some of the commands that they might have used to maneuver on the battlefield.
I'd say this was sort of cool. We stayed long enough to see them ride the horses around and gallop, and what not.
I got John to hold still long enough to take this picture (it later prompted him to tell me the many reasons why he didn't agree with the Confederacy on issues other than slavery).
I'm glad we went to the battlefield, especially since there was basically nothing else going on during the day before the wedding. Now I can cross "Bull Run" off of my list of Civil War sights. The list looks like this:
Gettysburg (so worth it! Really cool place to visit, especially around Memorial Day. I can also vouch for the quality of their hospital, since I got a horrible stomach virus on the last night our 8th grade trip and spent the night with an I.V. Seriously, though, there is so much to do there.)
Monocacy Junction (pretty good museum, considering how small the area is)
Antietam (also a really well maintained place with lots to see, and a good visitors center)