A visitor center is located in an old railroad station in the heart of Manassas and on the site of a critical Civil War rail junction. Two major battles were fought just a few miles north, along a creek known as Bull Run. The visitor center is a good place to get oriented to the area and learn about the town’s railroad history. For a free visitor guide to Manassas and Prince William County, call 800-432-1792.
Manassas National Battlefield Park
Main Visitor Center
6511 Sudley Road, Manassas VA
Park boundaries encompass key sites associated with the First (July 21, 1861) and Second (Aug. 28-30) Battles of Manassas (Bull Run). First Manassas is remembered as the first major land battle of the war, won by inexperienced Confederates who routed an equally raw Union force. Confederate Gen. Thomas J. Jackson became “Stonewall” for his role in the fighting. The second battle, also a dramatic Confederate victory, was much bloodier. More than 3,000 soldiers were killed during the battle. A 45-minute film is offered on the hour.
Frequent guided walking tours of Henry Hill offered. Driving tour information available. Visitor center open 8:30 am–5 pm. Park open dawn to dusk. Free. More info: www.nps.gov/mana or 703-361-1339.
• Henry Hill – Self-guided walking tour outside the visitor center highlights key spots in the first battle. PODCAST
• Stone Bridge – Key spot in the first battle as Union attacks spilled across Bull Run. Union line of retreat during both battles. Get information about walking trails at the visitor center.
• Stone House – Battlefield landmark was Union headquarters during the second battle. Served as a field hospital during and after both battles. Open seasonally and on special occasions.
• Unfinished Railroad Cut – Jackson defended this position against strong Union attacks during the second battle. The railroad grade is still visible.
The Manassas Museum System
9101 Prince William St, Manassas VA 22110
Main exhibit building just east of Business Route 234
Explore the history of Manassas and the Northern Virginia Piedmont at this effective regional museum. Good Civil War exhibits. The building is near the historic railroad junction that precipitated two major battles. A Civil War Trails sign is on site.
Also part of the museum system is Mayfield Fort, a Confederate-built earthwork designed to protect the railway junction and for use as a signal station. An eight-stop walking tour takes visitors through the fort. Stop at the museum for information about visiting the fort. Museum open Tuesday–Sunday 10 am–5 pm. $5/adult.
Downtown Manassas Civil War Walking Tour
A multi-stop walking tour beginning at the Manassas Museum describes life and military events in the tiny railroad junction town during the war. Among the topics covered with Civil War Trails signs are the great Confederate feast prior to Second Manassas in 1862, early battlefield relic collectors, camps and hospitals. For more on the tour or to download a map see www.manassasmuseum.org.
More Manassas Sites
Ben Lomond Manor House
10311 Sudley Manor Drive, Manassas VA 20109,
east of Route 234
A county park surrounds this fine 1837 home, which housed troops who fought at the nearby Manassas battlefield. Rooms may have been used as a hospital for Union soldiers; some left their names on the walls (still visible). Civil War Trails sign on the grounds. Tours offered Friday–Sunday 11 am–5 pm (May-October).
Located just off Signal View Drive across the street from entrance to Signal Hill Park
9300 Signal View Drive, Manassas VA
A Confederate observation post here warned of the Union effort to turn the flank of the Southern position during the initial stages of the First Battle of Manassas. It was the first use of wig-wag signals during wartime. Memorial cites first telecommunication on a battlefield. Parking.
Old Stone Church
13941 Braddock Road, Centreville VA 20120
Trails sign located 1/4 mile east of the intersection of Routes 29 and 28 at Church of the Ascension on Braddock Road in Centreville
An inexperienced Union army marched past here on the way to the Manassas battlefield. Many soldiers returned wounded on the way back and were treated in the church. The area then became a Confederate campgound during the winter of 1861–1862.
Panic at Cub Run
Trails sign located at the creek just off Route 29
Following the First Battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861, retreating Union troops, wagons and artillery stacked up here at a narrow suspension bridge over Cub Run. After a Confederate artillery shot blocked the bridge, Union troops panicked, throwing away their weapons. Wagons, artillery pieces and ambulances were abandoned. Civilians who came out to watch the battle also lost their carriages here. Congressman Alfred Ely was captured near here.
Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum
13938 Braddock Road, Centreville VA 20120
Features artifacts related to Confederate horsemen J.E.B. Stuart and J.S. Mosby. Open Saturday and Monday 10 am-4 pm. Free.
Trails sign located at the Ford, just off Route 28
Signs here describe significant incidents prior to the First Battle of Manassas in July 1861. Union attackers July 18 at Blackburn’s Ford on Bull Run ran into well-placed Confederates on the other side and were unable to dislodge them. Three days later the armies would meet again in a much larger battle farther north along the same creek.
Trails sign located at 7610 Old Centreville Road, Manassas VA 20111
Confederates constructed trenches here to defend Mitchell’s Ford on Bull Run. As the Union army approached the area July 17, 1861, Confederates withdrew to these defenses and others along the stream. Union artillery opened a five-hour bombardment against these positions the next day. Expecting an infantry attack here, Confederate commanders concentrated their reinforcements in this area, but rapidly withdrew them when the Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) opened on the other end of the Southern line July 21, 1861.
McLean House site
Trails sign at the intersection of Centreville Road (Route 28) and Yorkshire Lane, Manassas VA 20111
The home of the Wilmer McLean stood near this intersection and became the headquarters for Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard July 18, 1861, when the Battle of Blackburn’s Ford erupted. The battle was a prelude to the Battle of Manassas a few days later. The home sustained damage during the July 18 fighting with subsequent occupation and nearby skirmishing devastating the property. McLean eventually moved his family to Appomattox Court House to get out of the war. But his home again was invaded April 9, 1865, during the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s army. McLean’s plight gave rise to the popular saying, “The war started in his front lawn and ended in his front parlor.”
Battle at Bull Run Bridge
Two Trails signs commemorate this Aug. 27, 1862, battle, a prelude to the Battle of Second Manassas (Aug. 28–30, 1862). Learning that Confederates had occupied Manassas Junction, Union Gen. John Pope sent infantry to the scene thinking that the occupiers were cavalry only. The Union detachment instead found Confederate infantry under Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The one-sided fight sent the Northerners fleeing back to Centreville. Follow Civil War Trails trailblazer signs from Route 213 in Manassas Park and from Route 28 near Liberia (historic house undergoing restoration by the Manassas Museum System) at Liberia Avenue.
Follow Trails signs from Route 213 in Manassas Park
This house served as headquarters for Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston following the Battle of First Manassas in 1861. A year later, the home was a occupied by Union troops as Stonewall Jackson advanced to the old battlefield prior to the Battle of Second Manassas.
Trails sign at Greenwich Presbyterian Church,
15305 Vint Hill Road, Nokesville
Union and Confederate forces passed by or camped here frequently during the war. Federal units pursuing Stonewall Jackson to Manassas Junction camped here in August 1862; fighting involving John S. Mosby’s rangers flared near here and Confederates marched past on the way to nearby Bristoe Station in October 1863.
Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park
10708 Bristow Road, Bristow VA 20136
• The fighting here Oct 4, 1863, was part of a short-lived Confederate fall offensive. Led by Gen. A.P. Hill, Confederate forces rashly dashed up against a strong Union position and suffered great losses.
• The battle was judged a blunder for the Confederates and resulted in no advantage for the Southerners.
• The Aug 27, 1862, Battle of Kettle Run, fought on much of the same ground, is also interpreted at the site. That battle featuring Stonewall Jackson, was a prelude to the Battle of Second Manassas.
• The self-guided park trail features interpretive markers and old Confederate cemeteries. Self-guided tour brochures of the park are available on site.
• Open daylight hours. Free.
Antioch Church, 16513 Waterfall Road, Haymarket VA 20169
This pass in the Bull Run Mountains was used as an avenue of approach and escape during the war. Federal cavalrymen escaped through here June 18, 1863, after being defeated at Middleburg. Confederate partisan John S. Mosby maintained a prisoner-of-war camp here in July 1863.
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre
Trails sign located at the historic courthouse
12229 Bristow Road, Bristow VA 20136
3 miles west of Route 28 on Bristow Road (Route 619)
The Prince William County seat during the war, this town suffered severe damage during the war with many of its homes and public buildings destroyed or heavily damaged. Several Southern military units were formed on this 1822 Courthouse square, and Confederate partisans operated from here throughout the war. Tours of the courthouse offered May–October Friday–Sunday 11 am–5 pm.
Two Civil War Trails signs on Route 55
15016 Washington St, Haymarket VA 20169
This small town’s location put it directly in the path of marching armies throughout the war. Soldiers passed through here on the way to both battles at Manassas and uncounted smaller actions. After Confederate bushwackers fired at Federal troops near here in 1862, a Union general ordered the entire town burned, leaving only one house and the shell of a church. On June 25, 1863, J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry bumped into and fought briefly with elements of the Union II Corps here. Both forces were heading north and would converge again at Gettysburg.
Leesylvania State Park
Entrance west off U.S. Route 1 on Neabsco Road or I-95 exit 156
2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive, Woodbridge VA 22191
Well-interpreted remains of a Confederate artillery battery are located in this Potomac River park named for the former residents, the Lee family. The battery was in action Sept. 25, 1861, when it exchanged shots with Union vessels in the river. The fort is located and other Civil War stories are told on a history walking trail. Parking at the end of the park road. Restrooms. Great river views. Open daily. $2 parking/admission fee weekdays, $3 weekends April–October. Civil War Trails interpretation.
Trails sign located adjacent to the Mill House Museum, 413 Mill St, Occoquan
An important river crossing between Alexandria and Fredericksburg, this small settlement was a busy and sometimes dangerous place during the war. Confederate cavalry raided here in December 1862, and Union Gen. Joseph Hooker’s army constructed a 300-foot-long pontoon bridge here as he moved north following Lee toward Gettysburg in 1863.
Trails sign located on southbound Route 1, just north of Main Street split (south of Route 234 exit from I-95)
Confederates evacuated their camps here in March 1862 and the town remained in Union hands throughout the rest of the war. A raid Dec. 27, 1862, by Confederate Gen. JEB Stuart resulted in the destruction of many buildings.
Confederate Winter Encampments
Trails sign located at Ferlazzo Government Building, 15941 Donald Curtis Drive, Woodbridge 22191
This area along Neabsco Creek was the center of Confederate winter camps and fortifications in 1861–1862. These troops were used to support the Potomac River batteries that successfully blockaded the Potomac River in the winter of 1861–1862. Only a few of these camps and fortifications remain today.
Bacon Race Church
Trails sign located at Bacon Race Cemetery, 5213 Davis Ford Road, Woodbridge 22192
This cemetery is all that is left of the Oak Grove/Bacon Race Baptist Church which dated to the 1770s. This area in the winter of 1861–1862 became the supply depot for the Confederate troops camped in the eastern section of Prince William County. There were also several Confederate encampments in this area, including Wade Hampton’s famous “Hampton Legion.” There are several Civil War burials in the cemetery.