MANASSAS, Va. – It’s a weekend of history at a railroad junction still considered hallowed ground – 150 years after the Second Battle of Bull Run, the blue and gray are meeting again.
This weekend’s commemoration of the battle will culminate Sunday night with a dramatic presentation of Stonewall Jackson’s raid on Union provisions at Manassas junction.
The battle, from Aug. 28 to 30 of 1862, involved more than 100,000 men. When it was over more than 17 thousand had been killed or wounded.
Ray Brown, from the National Park Service, says the battle centered on the strategic railroad junction that both sides needed to transport troops and supplies.
“There was fighting that took place in what is now downtown Manassas,” says Brown.
Much of this year’s commemoration will take place within sight of the downtown railroad station, which still serves commuters on Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak.
Unlike last year’s commemoration, there will be no large reenactment or ceremony on the actual battlefield.
This weekends events are focused on the Manassas Museum where reenactors will talk about the battle. There’s also a portable history museum which will detail the battle and life in Virginia at the time of the conflict.
Last year’s commemoration of the First Battle of Manassas brought thousands of tourists, despite the sweltering 105 degree heat.
Manassas Mayor Harry Parrish says the event is important to get the city’s name out and hopefully lure in more tourists.
“We’re always a little concerned about spending dollars locally, and so we took a good close look at what took place last year,” says Parrish.
The city spent $400,000 to stage last year’s event and there was a 55 percent uptick in sales tax revenue for the four-day event. But the immediate economic impact was less than the city expected.
Parrish says the weather last year lowered the number of tourists. This year the temperatures are 20 degrees cooler.