The 150th anniversary of the American Civil War has begun, ensuring that every day over the next four years, there will be commemorations of each battle, skirmish, and political event of the war.
Over 8,000 historical reenactors ventured out into the scorching heat of northern Virginia this weekend to commemorate the first battle of Bull Run, or first Manassas, on 21 July 1861. Thousands of spectators showed up to watch this reenactment of the first major battle of the American Civil War, evoking the many civilians who came to watch the actual battle in 1861.
The first battle of Bull Run occurred when the first major Union advance toward the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, met a Confederate army at Manassas Junction. On 21 July 1861, the Union army attacked the Confederate lines along Bull Run, almost winning the battle, but a counterattack broke the Union troops, who fled north toward Washington. The heavy casualties of approximately 3,000 Union soldiers and 2,000 Confederates brought home the serious nature of the Civil War.
Over the past several decades the battlefield near Manassas has been the focal point of protests and lawsuits to protect American Civil War sites from development. The historical reenactment this weekend thus represents a major victory for many of the reenactors involved in the commemoration.
The Washington Post reports on the reenactment.