They Call It Manassas

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By John Cowgill

“There he stands like a ‘stone wall.'”

A soldier pointed out General Thomas Jackson as he stood firm against the Union Army during the first major battle of the Civil War.  Although he fought in many wars, it was Manassas where his rise to fame began.

Manassas is mainly known for the two battles of the Civil War, and although the Civil War is a major part of the town’s heritage, the Civil War is not the only thing to know about Manassas.  It began as a railroad town founded at the junction of two railroad lines.  In fact, the railroad was a contributing factor to Jackson’s victory as his troops arrived at Manassas by railroad.  The railroad was used for the first time for military use in American history with the arrival of Confederate troops, and the first railroad for military use was also in Manassas.  The nearby Battle of Kettle Run was the first war fought around the railroad.

Train station in Manassas

Manassas has a rich heritage in the Civil War and the railroad.  However, there is far more to Manassas.

Just outside of the Old Town is the Jennie Dean Memorial.  Jennie Dean was an African American woman who established a school where African Americans learned industrial skills like carpentry, plumbing and other skills.  The school is long gone, but the memorial and an elementary school named for her are on the site of the school.  She also helped start many churches in the Northern Virginia region.

The old candy factory, home of Virginia ARTfactory

Manassas has so much history which helped make it the town it is today.  There are Civil War sites, including the Mayfield Fort and the Manassas National Battlefield plus the Ben Lomond House and the Liberia Mansion, and you can watch the trains pass through the center of town.  Visit the ARTFactory housed inside an old candy factory and see art as well as plays.  At the Freedom Museum, see the American military heroes of yesteryear.  Walk through the shops and galleries of Historic Downtown Manassas.  In all of these places, you can see the heritage of Manassas live on.

John Cowgill writes about regional destinations.


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