Thursday, July 21, 2011

150 Years Ago Today, July 21, 1861: First Battle of Manassas, Part 3

This piece serves to remind us once again, that it isn't just adults who are impacted by war.

The End of Innocence
A New Day is Dawning
 The battle outside raging
will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
for the times, they are a-changing.
These Bob Dylan lyrics, though written for twentieth-century ears, also reflect the reality of the turmoil as war began to touch the lives of Americans in the summer of 1861.
 Northeastern Virginians who took the time to record their impressions noted that Sunday, July 21st, 1861, was a remarkably beautiful summer morning.   In the area near Sudley Ford over Bull Run Creek, just north of Manassas Junction, Virginia, many of the local residents were out, dressed in their Sunday finest, preparing to attend services at Sudley church.  In fact, some accounts indicate that a number of worshippers had already arrived at the church, little suspecting what was soon to unfold before them.
 Around 9 o’clock that morning, 13,000 Union troops under division commanders David Hunter and Samuel Heintzelman approached Sudley Ford, nearing completion of their flanking movement around the Confederate army; a maneuver they had begun nearly seven hours earlier.  Captain E.P. Alexander, Chief Signal Officer for General P.G.T. Beauregard  (commander of the Confederate forces in the area), positioned on a signal station on Wilcoxen Hill near Manassas Junction, was the first to spot the Federals approaching from the north: “. . .(C)areful observation. . .detailed the glitter of bayonets all along a road crossing the valley. . .” The first of the Union troops passed Sudley church around 9:30; within 30 minutes the church was converted to a battlefield hospital.
“I wish I could adequately describe the loveliness of this summer Sabbath morning.  In the midst of war we were in peace.  There was not a cloud in the sky; a gentle breeze rustled the foliage over our heads, mingling its murmurs with the soft notes of the wood-birds; the thick carpet of leaves under our feet deadened the sound of the artillery wheels and of the tramp of men.  Everybody felt the influence of the scene, and the men, marching on their leafy path, spoke in subdued tones.  A Rhode Island officer riding beside me quoted some lines from Wordsworth fitting the morning, which I am sorry I cannot recall.  Colonel Slocum of the Second Rhode Island rode up and joined in our talk about the peaceful aspect of nature around us.  In less than an hour I saw him killed while cheering on his men. . .”
 --Lieutenant Colonel Francis S. Fiske, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry


  1. Beautiful painting, Amy. Such a tender moment is captured in your work with this child.

  2. Thanks, Linda. I enjoy creating the pieces in this series for many reasons, but I am particularly happy when someone is touched by the images! Thanks for commenting.