An Inside Look at Manassas National Battlefield Park

An Inside Look at Manassas National Battlefield Park

The National Park Service celebrated its 100th year of service on August 25th, and it will continue to celebrate for the entire weekend (and year). To get people excited to celebrate, we interviewed Jim Burgess to get his unique perspective on what makes Manassas National Battlefield Park special – take a look at what he had to say. 


When was the Battlefield established as a National Park?

May 10, 1940

What makes Manassas National Battlefield Park stand out from the other National Parks?

It was the site of the First Battle of Manassas, which was the first major battle of the Civil War. The Second Battle of Manassas was a much larger battle and one of General Lee’s greatest victories, which ultimately led to his first invasion of the North.

What is something that not a lot of people know about the park?

Most visitors don’t venture beyond Henry Hill. They sometimes don’t even know that we have a second visitor’s center at the Brawner Farm.

Are there any cemeteries in the park?

There are multiple family cemeteries as well as a Confederate cemetery. The entire battlefield can also be considered a cemetery.

What is your favorite spot in the park?

I like a little bluff overlooking Bull Run. It’s about half of a mile north of the Stone Bridge. It’s very scenic there – shady too. (There is a hiking trail that takes you there.)

What is your most memorable moment that you have had with a visitor?

I’ve been here over forty years, and trying to think of one particular instance is going to be tough.

We had an interesting occurrence a couple of weeks ago… We got a letter from New Zealand. With the letter, came a small piece of iron case shot which is part of an artillery shell. It explodes in the area and rains down upon the enemy. This guy from New Zealand had been touring Civil War battlefields the previous winter and while at Appomattox, he bought this piece of case shot which was advertised as being from this battlefield. Upon his return to New Zealand, he was promptly arrested for a felony. His wife and children left him, he fell off of his bicycle a couple of times, which was something he had never done in the past, and lost his job. He happened to read an article that had been published in the Washington Post about some folks who had picked up rocks at Gettysburg and then experienced all kind of bad luck. So, he feels that this piece of case shot may have been bringing him bad luck and he returned it to us. I’ve got it downstairs today and so far, no bad luck has come yet.

That’s just one of many memorable moments. 

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