On-line Book
Cover book to Battling for Manassas: The Fifty-Year Preservation Struggle at Manassas National Battlefield Park. [Image of cannon in the battlefield]
Battling for Manassas: The Fifty-Year Preservation Struggle at Manassas National Battlefield Park


Table of Contents




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

current topic Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11


Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

Appendix IV

Appendix V (omitted from on-line edition)

Appendix VI

Appendix VII

Appendix VIII

Chapter 3
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Settling in

Visitor Services During World War II

When the administration-museum building opened in 1942, the Park Service set up temporary display areas that reflected the intent of Hanson's 1939 prospectus but on a smaller scale. Four large dust-proof and fluorescent-lit exhibit cases displayed relics collected from the nearby fields. Troop position and combat maps described both Manassas battles, while numerous photographs and engravings of wartime scenes provided visitors with a sense of the historical setting. Park personnel expected to incorporate relevant parts of the temporary displays into the ultimate museum plan, which did not materialize until after World War II. [23]

World War II interrupted both general administrative activities and interpretive programs at the Manassas National Battlefield Park. In April 1942 Hanson replaced Taylor, who had joined the U.S. Army, first as acting superintendent and later as custodian. Originally from South Dakota, Hanson had served in the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War I and later wrote a history of the American combat divisions for the Stars and Stripes. Hanson also published histories on South Dakota and the conflicts between whites and the Plains Indians of the mid-1860s, and he had a personal interest in the Civil War since his grandfather had served as an officer in the Union army. He joined the National Park Service as a historian in the mid-1930s, where he applied his historical research and writing experience to Manassas under the recreational demonstration area program. As superintendent, he continued to devise interpretive activities based on his extensive knowledge of the Manassas battles. [24]

Gas rationing and other wartime restrictions contributed to a sharp drop in park visitation by civilians. In May 1942 Hanson remarked that visitation had dropped noticeably as a result of the war. The numbers remained low throughout the early 1940s and did not rebound until after V-J Day. Visitation between September 1944 and 1945 more than doubled when the war ended. This dramatic increase in travel to Manassas reflected a larger trend; national park sites became the vacation destination of millions of Americans in the post-World War II years. [25]

The composition of visitors also changed dramatically with the start of the war as officers from local military camps replaced tourists and local families. During the 1943 fiscal year, more than 10,000 military personnel in comparison to an estimated 2,300 civilians visited the park. The graduating classes from the Marine Corps base at Quantico and the Army base at Fort Belvoir, both located within thirty miles of Manassas, composed the greatest number of visitors. The Virginia Protective Force and the Virginia Reserve Militia also made regular stops at the park.

Military personnel used their park visits for several purposes. The Virginia Protective Force and Reserves conducted overnight bivouacs and infantry maneuvers, while the classes from Quantico and Fort Belvoir worked on tactical problems and carried out minor maneuvers. Hanson provided each group with guided tours of the museum and lectures on the two Civil War battles. In June 1943 the 11th Battalion of the Virginia Protective Force conducted a program of intensive infantry training at Manassas without motorized transportation, which included cross-country marching and patrol along with outpost and combat exercises. The battalion then held a review on Chinn Ridge. [26]

As had been the case with Taylor, Hanson served as the sole contact person at the park. He greeted visitors at the museum and directed them on routes to explore the battlefields. Because he could not go out and walk the land with each visitor, he devised interpretive aids for use out on the field. He replaced the illegible self-guided tour markers that Taylor had erected in 1940 with new signs in the Henry Hill area to explain the important historical and tactical points of First Manassas. Each marker consisted of a case that held a small guide map of the field, a list of all the markers, directions for the tour, and descriptive text for the particular locale. Many of the cases also contained a reproduction of a pertinent drawing or photograph from the Civil War. Hanson prepared all the texts and accompanying materials; park laborer Douglas Leonard built the wooden cases with glass tops. By June 1945 Hanson placed another case near the museum's observation terrace containing five maps showing the topography of the battlefields and troop movements for First and Second Manassas. These maps, sketched by Hanson and painted on masonite by his wife in 1939, had served as visual aids for lectures. [27]

For Second Manassas, Hanson tried to provide specialized interpretive services for knowledgeable visitors interested in the finer details of the campaigns. In March 1945 he completed a troop position map that overlaid a property map, showing the relation of the Civil War battles to the current park boundary lines. He then had two electroplates done to show the first, intermediate, and final positions of the Union and Confederate armies during the decisive last day of the second battle. Hanson also considered erecting markers in the area between Sudley Church and Groveton, which was the scene of the greater part of Second Manassas, but concluded that this idea was impracticable, probably recognizing his own limitations in time and the fact that the Park Service did not own any of the nearby land. [28]

Hanson remained sensitive to the historical significance of the Manassas battles to twentieth-century Americans. In recognition of the losses suffered during World War II, he posted comparative statistics on these casualties and those of the Union and Confederate armies in Second Manassas. Visitors showed a "surprising amount of interest" in these displays. He also compared the "moral expediency" of preserving Manassas with the World War II battlefields. The Civil War battlefield park landscape supplied the same spiritual dividends" for park visitors to take home as the World War II battlefields did for soldiers who later returned to them. These connections between past and present made places like Manassas National Battlefield Park important and helped later visitors understand their heritage. [29]

CONTINUED continued


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