July 21, 2019 MNBP Schedule of Events

29 06 2019

158th Anniversary Commemoration of First Manassas

Date & Time 07/21/2019 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Special Program: Stone Bridge – Portici – Henry Hill Hike – 7:00 a.m.

Join a park historian for a special three-hour hike focusing on the battle’s early morning action. The program will begin with an overview of the campaign and opening combat at the Stone Bridge. Visitors are then welcome to accompany the ranger on an extended hike, both on and off trail, following in the footsteps of a detachment of the 4th South Carolina Volunteers. The tour will follow their approximate route to Portici and then to the battlefront on Henry Hill. Please meet at the Stone Bridge parking lot (Tour Stop #12).

Note: This hike includes the possible crossing of several shallow streams (water level permitting). Proper footwear is recommended. Insect repellent is also strongly encouraged. Courtesy transportation back to the Stone Bridge parking lot will be offered upon request. Total hiking distance will be approximately 3.5 miles.

Matthews Hill Walking Tour – 11:00 a.m.

Meet at Matthews Hill Parking Lot (Tour Stop #4)

Henry Hill Walking Tour – 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., & 4:00 p.m.
Meet at the Henry Hill Visitor Center

Portici Walking Tour – 1:30 p.m.

Please meet at the Portici Parking Lot (Tour Stop #11)
Note: Parking is available at the back of the Strayer University lot off Battleview Parkway.

Chinn Ridge Walking Tour – 4:00 p.m.

Meet at the Chinn Ridge Parking Lot (Tour Stop #10)

Living History Demonstrations on Henry Hill

Musketry Demonstrations – 12:00 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.
Artillery Demonstrations – 12:30 p.m. & 3:30 p.m.

For more information, please call the Henry Hill Visitor Center:
(703)-361-1339 x0





Anniversary Weekend, July 20 & 21

28 06 2019

BL and MBT Joint Flyer

I have three engagements coming up in and near the Manassas National Battlefield Park over the weekend of the battle anniversary (I’ve never been one for anniversaries, and this will be the first time I’ll be down there for one. If you’re an anniversary type, note that not only is July 21st the 158th anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run, it’s also a Sunday, and the battle was indeed fought on a Sunday.)

At 10:30 AM on Saturday, July 20, at the Ben Lomond Historic Site, I’ll be presenting McDowell’s Plan at Bull Run for the Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation. You can come hear me expound on my often-referred-to, hairbrained notions of what the General intended. It’s not what you’re used to hearing. But, it’s free! Check out the details in the flyer (which includes all the weekend events. There is also a Facebook Event Page.

Then on Saturday at 6:00 PM, I’ll be presenting “Echoes of the First Shot:” Peter Hains and the First Battle of Bull Run for the Manassas Battlefield Trust.. We’ll be taking a look at Hains’s 1911 memoir of the battle. You can find out everything and register to attend here. There is also a Facebook Event Page. There is a fee for the event that benefits the Trust. This is a free event. Donations to the Trust are appreciated.

On Sunday from 9:00 AM until about 3:00 PM, Kevin Pawlak and I will lead a bus tour of the battlefield and environs for Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation. Stops will include Blackburn’s Ford, Signal Hill, Sudley Springs Ford, and others. There is a fee that benefits the Foundation, but lunch is included. See the flyer, and the Facebook Event Page.





Recap: In the Footsteps of the 69th NYSM

12 06 2019


28161976_1772347689506624_6938441587254799106_o

At 9:00 AM on May 11, 2019, about 50 folks assembled in the parking lot at Manassas National Battlefield Park’s Stone Bridge to follow guides John Hennessy, Joseph Maghe, Damian Shiels, and me as we retraced the steps of the 69th New York State Militia during the First Battle of Bull Run.

The structure was simple: we followed the First Manassas Trail and walked along Bull Run from Stone Bridge and picked up the regiment’s route on the battlefield (west) side of Bull Run at the site of Farm Ford, where the men crossed on the morning of July 21, 1861. (Their route to the ford lies on the east side of the Run, over the grounds of the present day Winery at Bull Run.) At each stop, I contributed some framework of how we got to and what happened at that point using reports from the official records and other correspondence from participants. John Hennessy provided deeper context, again drawn from participants and from his years of research and experience on the field. Then Damian Shiels expanded our understanding of these men (and in some cases Irish soldiers of other regiments on the field as well) and their families in New York and Ireland, using the vast and poignant materials he’s gleaned from widows’ pension files. Consistent with the data set used, these accounts typically ended tragically, and Damian will forever be known as the George R. R. Martin of the First Battle of Bull Run. He drew us in with the stories of these men and women, got us to care about them, and then, well, bad things happened.

IMG_20190511_093008840

John Hennessy discusses the advance to and crossing at Farm Ford

IMG_20190511_095424961

After Farm Ford, we continued roughly west by north toward Matthews Hill, stopping to get some perspective and a view south to Henry Hill.

IMG_20190511_102843028

Damian Shiels at Stop #2, a view south to Henry Hill from Sherman’s route of march toward Matthews Hill. John Hennessy and Joe Maghe, in green, look on.

IMG_20190511_102346861

View south – MNBP Visitor Center in middle distance

The next stop was further west to the point of first contact between Sherman’s Brigade and the Confederates of Bee and – purportedly, possibly, perhaps – Wheat, and the death of Lt. Col. Haggerty. Damian continued the story of Haggerty’s widow. The ripples from pebbles tossed on that June Sunday were many and far reaching.

IMG_20190511_103116139_HDR

Discussing the death of Haggerty

We then moved, still westerly, past the site of the Carter house “Pittsylvania” and the Carter Family cemetery.

IMG_20190511_105048033

 

IMG_20190511_105543880

IMG_20190511_105616778_HDR

Carter Cemetery

IMG_20190511_105353635

MNBP Superintendent Brandon Bies and his family joined us for the day

We took a jog south and discussed the Confederate collapse on Matthews Hill.

IMG_20190511_105925452_HDR

View South

IMG_20190511_105939448

View North to Confederate Line

Continuing farther west, we walked past the Stovall Monument and the site of the Matthews House to Matthews Hill where the 69th’s advance down Sudley Road toward Henry Hill was covered.

IMG_20190511_114034643

Site of Matthews House

IMG_20190511_115416938

View from Matthews Hill to Henry Hill

IMG_20190511_121021614

The crew moves south to toward the Stone House and the Sudley Road/Warrenton Turnpike intersection.

After crossing the busy road (Warrenton Turnpike, today’s Lee Highway), we ascended to Henry Hill where we broke for lunch and to view Joe Maghe’s fine collection of 69th NYSM artifacts inside the reconstructed post-war Henry House (a big shout-out to MNBP for making the facility available).


IMG_20190511_122347206_HDR

IMG_20190511_131210366_HDR

IMG_20190511_131231041

60281709_2737282292953532_2759725545213132800_n

Joe Maghe fields questions from one of the dozens of folks on the tour and park visitors who stopped in the Henry House to view his collection. (Photo by Pat Young)

After lunch, but prior to setting out for the return trip to the Stone Bridge, we gathered for a group photo in front of the Henry House. A few opted not to do the return walk and are not pictured.


IMG_20190511_133653019_HDR

After lunch, we discussed the 69th’s action on Henry Hill and the fight for Ricketts’s guns.

IMG_20190511_135248892_HDR

John Hennessy describes the fighting on Henry Hill

IMG_20190511_142120166

Occasionally participants contributed, in this case Pat Young of “The Immigrant’s Civil War”

We shifted base slightly down the hill, and covered the retreat.

60009428_2015873865207828_5343518432434323456_n

Here, I (green hat at center) discuss the retreat, prisoners, and the 69th’s forming of an infantry square

After that, we again picked up the First Manassas Trail, making our way along the back side of Henry Hill. Eventually we reached the site of the Van Pelt House, and wound our way down to the Stone Bridge parking lot where we started. FYI, my fit bit clocked in at right around 20,000 steps for the day.

IMG_20190511_155122023

IMG_20190511_162140450

Guides (left to right) Damian Shiels, John Hennessy, Joe Maghe, and Harry Smeltzer

I think, all in all, the tour was a great success, and most important we all learned a good deal about these men, their families, and their circumstances before, during, and after the battle. Thanks to everyone who turned out, to our intrepid guides and exhibitor, to Debi Faber-Maghe who held down the fort in the Henry House, to the Bies kids who were super-troopers, and to my sister Patrice who really helped me out.

I’m mulling over a few really good – IMO – ideas for future First Bull Run tours (if you have any, I’m all ears), so check back here, every…single…day.





One Week! Be Considerate!

4 05 2019


Parking-Lot-full

OK, folks – we’re one week out from following In the Footsteps of the 69th NYSM. All of our guides are now on one continent, so that’s a good sign. Again, I have no idea how many people will show up. While this is not a caravan tour like the prior three Bull Runnings Battlefield Tours, remember that parking at the Stone Bridge lot, our starting point, is limited. So be considerate, and try to consolidate as many folks into one vehicle as you can. You may want to meet up at the visitor’s center lot and leave some cars there, then take one car to the Stone Bridge lot. This will really help out – it will allow for as many people as possible to join us, and it will also give you then option to end your tour at the visitor’s center instead of making the “retreat” back to the Stone Bridge.

Thanks! I’m looking forward to seeing you all there. Keep an eye out here for handouts, as this is the only place they’ll be available. We won’t be passing out any paper.





Tour Coming Up Soon!

28 04 2019

ND-logo

We’re only two weeks out from our In the Footsteps of the 69th New York State Militia at First Bull Run tour. Just a few quick points to bring up:

  • This is a FREE tour. As such, everything is on your own. If you feel compelled to make a donation to the park, you can do so at the Visitor’s Center – they have a box for that.
  • We’ll meet at the Stone Bridge parking lot at 9 AM, on Saturday, May 11. From there, we will proceed by foot across Matthews Hill to Henry Hill.
  • We’ll break for lunch when we get to the Visitor’s Center on Henry Hill. That lunch is on your own. You may choose to carry your lunch with you to this point. Or, if you have a friend with another vehicle, you may want to leave that vehicle on Henry Hill and ride in a second vehicle to the starting point. That way, you can have your lunch waiting for you on Henry Hill. This also might allow you to opt out of the retreat portion of tour.
  • The TOTAL distance of the tour is about 5 miles over rolling ground. Keep this in mind in your planning.
  • The tour is rain or shine. Dress for the weather. Consider that we will be walking through fields and whatnot, and this is May. Tick spray, drinking water, long pants, comfortable and sturdy footwear, are all recommended. At this time, I have no sway over nature.
  • Keep your eye out here for any handouts for the tour. They will not be provided on site. You can choose to print them out or download them to your preferred device.

I look forward to seeing you all on May 11. Facebook indicates we’ll have somewhere between four and four hundred people on this tour. That is to say, I have no idea who’s going to show up other than my fellow guides and me.





Everything You Need to Know About…

7 04 2019

…the recently unearthed soldier remains at Manassas National Battlefield Park.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?457702-10/soldier-remains-manassas





2019 Speaking Dates

3 01 2019

oldblowhard__38159.1398554046.480.480

I’ve updated the Book Me, Danno! page for my 2019 speaking/tour engagements (so far). On April 25, I’ll be presenting the Future of Civil War History program at the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) hall in Peninsula, OH. Interestingly enough, I’ll be presenting much of that program again two days later at the Carnegie Free Library and Concert Hall in Carnegie, PA, which also houses a fully restored G.A.R. post. When I presented this program for the first time back in 2013 I really didn’t think anyone would be intrigued enough to hear it again, but these will mark the third and fourth times for some mutation of it.

Yes, the correct date for the 69th NYSM tour is May 11. And I’m not really sure yet what’s going on with the battle anniversary weekend, other than I believe I’ll be working with some combination of Prince William County, Manassas Battlefield Trust,  and Manassas National Battlefield Park, both speaking and touring.