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

Chapter 3

current topic 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 4
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Park Additions

New York Monuments

A high-priority area for acquisition included the site of the New York monuments. Raleigh C. Taylor contacted the state of New York, which owned the monuments and the land they rested on, and owners of some of the surrounding lands to suggest that the National Park Service obtain ownership. As had been the case for the Bull Run monuments at Henry Hill and Groveton, by 1940 the New York monuments had fallen into a state of disrepair. Taylor stressed that the Park Service would provide the expertise and commitment to address their threatened condition. [2]

Hanson continued the boundary expansion effort by staying in touch with the landowners and the state of New York. He served as a conduit for the National Park Service to relay its interest in acquiring the monuments and lands and remained apprised of any potentially disruptive actions taken by the owners. An increasingly pressing concern was the fear that present owners would allow residential developments on these historically significant lands. Hanson noted that in 1944 a Confederate earthwork near Centreville, Virginia, was destroyed during commercial development, and he wondered if a similar fate awaited tracts closer to the park. [3]

Soon after the end of World War II, Hanson's fears became reality when John T. Hottel, who had recently bought the lands adjacent to the New York monuments, initiated plans to sell suburban home lots. By 1947 three parties had purchased a total of thirty-seven acres and had begun building houses. In response to Hanson's urgings to secure the remaining land before further disruptions of the historic scene occurred, the underfunded National Park Service advised him to research the record and valuation data for the lands under consideration. Not content with such limited action, Hanson had the land appraised. He then proceeded to negotiate a six-month option with Hottel to sell a portion of the land to the Park Service for $14,000. This option ran out before the Park Service obtained the necessary funding to act, and the Hottel tract remained in private hands when Hanson retired from the National Park Service on 31 December 1947. [4]

Lacking the funding to buy the Hottel property, the Park Service shifted its attention to the state of New York. In 1949 Assistant Director Conrad Wirth informed James Evans, director of the New York state parks, of gates rusting, monuments falling apart, and the constant threat of vandalism. United States Senator Irving McNeil Ives from New York confirmed from firsthand knowledge the "unprotected" and "uncared for" status of the monuments. He urged the state to take action in reverence of the many New Yorkers who had died on that land during Second Manassas. [5]

Prompted by these appeals, the New York state legislature passed and on 10 April 1950 the governor signed into law an act authorizing donation of the three monuments to the federal government for inclusion in the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Although pleased with this step, the Park Service had to delay transfer of the parcels, which were not contiguous with the park's boundary, until sufficient lands were acquired to protect them properly. The state agreed to this request and sent Evans to Virginia to determine the next best course of action. [6]

Evans, "quite distressed" by the "deplorable" condition of the monuments, agreed that the state should acquire lands around the monuments and transfer them to the federal government. The governor of New York shared this concern, wondering "how the hell" the monuments had reached such a state of disrepair. To determine the value of the lands, James B. Myers, a specialist in the military history of the Civil War who replaced Hanson as the battlefield park's third superintendent, provided the New York state legislature in September 1950 with a report on a series of land appraisals. Despite heavy support from the governor, tight budget constraints in 1951 kept the New York Assembly Ways and Means Committee from approving the required funds, and the issue waited another year. [7]

Evans, his department of state parks, and the New York state land office continued to seek ways to address the abandoned New York monuments. They found $1,500 in the budget to hire a contractor in fall 1951 to clean up the small plots of land and repair the monuments and their surrounding gates and fences. In February 1952 the New York state legislature reconsidered the issue and appropriated $49,470 for acquiring approximately 160 acres. The Park Service obtained the funds in early August. [8]

As the Park Service began negotiating options to buy these lands, it discovered that the trickle of development that had begun in the late 1940s had swelled. Wirth, now director, informed Evans in May 1952 that four acres originally earmarked for inclusion in the battlefield park had since been purchased and a motel planned for the site. Wirth also noted that local publicity on the New York appropriation had sparked a "certain restlessness" among landowners, making the Park Service anxious to finalize the process. [9]

Further evidence of increased building became visible. Nearby armed service installations prompted "enormous housing programs" around the town of Manassas, while a steady flow of house seekers drew attention to the lands the Park Service hoped to acquire. As demand rose, prices increased accordingly. By early 1953 the Park Service needed the full $49,470 to buy four tracts, and it estimated that another $60,000 to $70,000 would be needed to purchase the remaining properties identified under the state appropriation. Without further funding available from the state, the Park Service waited until Department of the Interior land acquisition funds came available in subsequent years. [10]

CONTINUED continued


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