WASHINGTON — The Manassas Museum has retired its annual Civil War Weekends one year after the event was canceled in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville white supremacist rally.
The First Battle of Bull Run, as it was called by Union forces, or The First Battle of Manassas, according to Confederate forces, was fought on July 21, 1861. It’s known as the first major battle of the American Civil War.
Last year, days after counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed during the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, the Civil War Weekend in Manassas wasn’t held.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the event was canceled, due to the events that happened in Charlottesville,” said Mary Helen Dellinger, curator of the Manassas Museum System. “We did those weekends for four years.”
Now, the city has decided to widen its look into its past, with the introduction of Manassas History Weekend, running Aug. 24-26.
“It’s a more comprehensive look at our story from a military point of view. So, we’ll have things from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam,” said Dellinger. “Of course the Civil War story will be told.”
Dellinger said the city had planned that last year’s Civil War Weekend would be the last.
“We were going to pivot to something new, and then the unfortunate events of Charlottesville happened,” she said.
With tensions running high over Civil War memorials and statues in cities across the country, Dellinger said, people can disagree about historic events.
“Of course, there can be differences of opinion,” she said. “Where were you on 9/11? And when you tell that story, is that the entire story of 9/11? Of course it isn’t — it’s your history of 9/11.”
Dellinger said most of the Civil War exhibitions will be held at Liberia House, which was a plantation owned by Harriett Bladen Mitchell Weir and her husband, William James Weir.
“We can tell the full story of the Weir family, the enslaved that lived there during that time, and what was going on at the house in 1861 and 1862. We’ll have encampments, so people can walk around and see what camp life was like, and talk to people about their experiences.”
The Manassas History Weekend is free of charge, Dellinger said.