Symposium to Offer a Wide Range of Topics

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Provided by Prince William County

Topics touching on history from the American Revolution all the way through the more recent history of the Lorena Bobbitt story will be on the agenda at the “If I Were Today a Virginian: 5th-Annual Prince William/Manassas History Symposium.” The symposium will be held from 8:30 a. m. to 5:30 p. m. on March 30 at the Old Manassas Courthouse.

Rob Orrison, the county’s historic site operations supervisor, said symposium organizers attempted to choose broad selection subjects for discussion. “We try to pick a diverse range of topics. It’s not all Civil War. It’s not all Colonial. We try to pick topics that cover the very diverse history of the county.”

The story from the county’s early history, Prince William County’s Own: The 3rd Virginia Regiment in the American Revolution, will explore the history of the regiment that mustered out of Prince William County and fought in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The regiment also fought every battle Gen. George Washington commanded, Orrison said. “It was a very highly decorated unit. They suffered lots of casualties and most of them surrendered in Charleston, S.C., in 1780 when Charleston surrendered.”

The Town’s full of Bluecoats – Prince William County During the Spanish American War will reveal stories from when U.S. Army troops visited Prince William County in 1898. Orrison said some of the information in the session will be new to Prince William residents. “During the Spanish-American war, a large contingent of the United States Army encamped in Prince William County for a training exercise. There are some really good stories, and we’ve come across some really great images that have never been shown before in Prince William.”

Jennie Dean and the Manassas Industrial School will be a discussion about Jennie Dean and the private, residential, industrial school she founded for African American children in Manassas in 1893. The school’s opening drew a famous abolitionist, orator, writer and speaker, Orrison said. “Frederick Douglass came and spoke at the dedication of the Jennie Dean School.”

Prince William County at the Battle of Gettysburg will speak to the history of Civil War fighters, some famous and some not, from Prince William County who fought in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, Orrison said. “There are four regiments that fought for the South at Gettysburg. A park ranger from Gettysburg, Dan Welch, will speak about what those men did at Gettysburg. Some of them were highly decorated.”

Virginia vs. Lorena Bobbitt: Looking Back 25 Years Later will round out the schedule of topics at the symposium and bring the discussion into to more modern times. Orrison said Amanda Socci, while reporting as a freelancer for InsideNova, recently interviewed Bobbitt, now Lorena Gallo, and will talk about Gallo’s story. “It’s basically about how that story resonates in American memory. Not all history is pretty, but it’s history.”

The symposium will also include a hands-on session at the Manassas Museum where people will be able to see and touch some of the museum’s artifacts to further explore one of the day’s topics.

Orrison said people may pick and choose the sessions they attend. “They can attend the whole day, or they can and go as they please.”

Orrison said a $10 registration is required for the popular event at the Old Manassas Courthouse at 9250 Lee Ave. With only 100 seats available, the symposium fills quickly. “It sells out every year.” Call 703-792-4754 or email to register.


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