Provided by Prince William County
Over the years, those working at the Ben Lomond Historic Site have tried to make the experience of visiting the house, which served as a Civil War Confederate field hospital after the Battle of First Manassas in 1861, as authentic as possible.
When the site opened to the public in 2011 as a historic house museum, visitors could see authentic surgical tools, rooms in the house that served as impromptu operating and recovery rooms, recreations of bloody bandages, half-eaten plates of food and weapons. Later, scents were added to contribute to the experience, said Paige Gibbons-Backus, Ben Lomond Historic Site Manager.
“Everything we have inside the house recreates the sights of the Civil War hospital where visitors… can interact with all the objects inside the house,” Gibbons-Backus said. “We’ve tried to add smells to the hospital, so not only can you see the hospital now, you can smell hints of gangrene, smoke, gunpowder, filth; what would have historically been found in the hospital.”
Recently, sounds have been added to heighten visitors’ experience, Gibbons-Backus said. “We have strived to create an even more immersive experience for our visitors in that we have started adding audio. So, not only can you see and smell the hospital, now you can actually hear the sounds of it. You can hear the boom of cannon fire. You can hear the sound of soldiers who are wounded, who are dying within its walls. You can hear the struggle and the chaos of the lack of supplies, the lack of medical staff. You can really get a sense of how overwhelming this hospital was after July 21, 1861.”
The historic site, located at 10321 Sudley Manor Drive in Manassas, has a long history predating the Civil War by several decades. “Here at Ben Lomond Historic Site, we have a wide variety of history — all the way from the 1832 plantation, when this home was originally built, to a dairy farm in the 1920s and 1930s,” said Gibbons-Backus. “But our main focus of attention is from July 21, 1861, to about the end of August, when the house was used as a Civil War hospital after the Battle of First Manassas.”
Tours of the house are available Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. Tours last 45 minutes to an hour. The grounds, including the Old Rose Garden, are open from dawn to dusk. For more information, call 703-367-7872 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Candlelight tours are also available with advance registration and scheduling, Gibbons- Backus said.
Find the complete history of the Ben Lomond House on the Historic Preservation Division’s webpage.