History History History

History

Walk in the Footsteps of History

Connect with America's history by exploring one of countless historic sites. Stand where "Stonewall" Jackson earned his name at Manassas National Battlefield Park or visit a former Civil War hospital at Ben Lomond Historic Site.


Discover what it's like to become a marine at the National Museum of the Marine Corps or tour the Manassas Museum in Old Town Manassas, which features permanent and rotating exhibits about Northern Virginia Piedmont History.
 

From 3,000 Acres to 360 Square Miles...

What is now Prince William County was once inhabited by Dogue Indians when Captain John Smith navigated the Potomac River for the English Crown in 1608. Settlement in Prince William County began in 1653, when the first land patent established 3,000 acres from the Occoquan River to Neabsco Creek. A 534-acre plantation was cut and became known as the George Mason plantation. It was here that the first public buildings were constructed and Mason's "wood bridge" became the first land connection across the Occoquan River.

George Washington Slept Here, Really...

What is believed to be the oldest home still standing in Prince William County, Rippon Lodge, was built on a scenic Woodbridge hilltop circa 1747, by Richard Blackburn. His friend, George Washington, visited the Blackburn family often and stayed overnight.

Our Roots are Across the Atlantic...

As the population grew, settlers petitioned for a new county to be formed. In 1771, Prince William County was carved out of Stafford, initially including what is now Loudoun, Fauquier, Arlington and Fairfax counties. Named for William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the youngest son of King George II of England, many colonists came to Prince William County to escape religious persecution.

A Revolutionary Time...

As a new nation was forming and asserting its independence, General George Washington and French General (Comte de) Rochambeau forged ahead with their troops through Prince William County on what is now known as King's Highway walking trail. Their advance, during the final campaign of the American Revolution, eventually led to the defeat of the British forces at Yorktown in 1781. The King's Highway route is marked by interpretive signs.

A Call to Arms...

In April 1861, a deadlier conflict erupted. Confederate soldiers were recruited on the Brentsville Courthouse lawn. On a hot July day in 1861, the sleepy railroad community of Manassas Junction found itself on the forefront of American history. During the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run, the first major land battle of the Civil War, about 4,900 people were
killed, wounded, captured or reported missing. Thirteen months later, the armies clashed once again, when Confederate
forces marched through Thoroughfare Gap to the familiar ground of the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run. Under the command of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, they lay in wait behind an unfinished railroad grade. The Confederate troops surprised the Union troops who were under Major General John Pope's command. The Battle of Second Manassas/Bull Run had begun. Four times larger than the first battle, the second battle involved 120,000 men, fighting for two and a half days. Nearly 24,000 soldiers were wounded or killed. Today, their stories echo at Manassas National Battlefield Park. In both Manassas battles, the Ben Lomond House was used as a hospital to treat soldiers from both sides. Built in 1837, the walls still bear the authentic signatures of Union soldiers, marking their stay as they recovered from battle wounds.

Liberia, a brick farm house on 18 acres, was home to the largest number of slaves in the Manassas area. Several Both Confederate and Union generals made Liberia their headquarters during the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln visited Liberia in 1862.

In October 1863, Confederate forces suffered a bloody defeat as they tried to cross Broad Run in pursuit of the Federal Third Corps on what is now Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park.

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