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

Chapter 4

current topic 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 5
National Park Service Arrowhead

Reenacting the Past

Mission 66 Planning

Wilshin identified land acquisition and interpretation as the two focal points for Manassas National Battlefield Park under the Mission 66 program. The federal government owned scattered tracts mainly associated with First Manassas. By acquiring the intervening lands, the Park Service hoped to create a cohesive park with readily apparent boundaries. This approach would buffer the parklands from future outside developments. The Park Service also recognized that key tracts related to Second Manassas were needed to tell the story of this battle.

Wilshin knew that a successful interpretive program relied on incorporating these lands. First, visitors could explore more areas and obtain a fuller understanding of the significant activities associated with each battle. Second, the Park Service planned to build an internal road system linking the different sections. Visitors would then have leisurely and safe access to the chief points of historical interest without having to fight outside traffic traveling through the park. Third, the Park Service would incorporate the new lands into an improved system of trail-side markers and exhibits, as Myers had suggested. [9]

Land acquisition plans under Mission 66 focused on those tracts designated for inclusion in the 1954 boundary expansion legislation. Much of the property north of Lee Highway remained privately owned and had priority attention during Mission 66. Wilshin also pushed for two properties not identified in the 1954 legislation, namely, Battery Heights, a key artillery position of the battle of Second Manassas, and the Stone Bridge, a significant landmark in both battles. According to the 1954 legislation, the Park Service could pursue acquisition of these lands so long as the total amount did not add more than 1,400 acres to the existing park. [10]

With the addition of these areas, Wilshin could focus his attention on interpretive improvements in both the museum and around the park. For the museum-administration building, now called the visitor center, Wilshin proposed adding a wing for group presentations and orientation purposes. He also saw the need for expanding the parking lot to accommodate increased numbers of visitors and for installing the two electric maps that Myers had previously suggested. To provide greater museum exhibit space, he suggested finishing the second floor of the visitor center. Park Service officials could not justify the second-floor exhibit space, but they did approve construction of the wing and again considered building the electric maps. [11]

Within the park, Wilshin recommended a system of hard-surfaced roads with adequate parking areas to make the different historic areas of the park more accessible. Directional markers would lead visitors to these sites, and permanent narrative markers would describe the significance of each point. To augment the number of visitor contact places, Wilshin proposed rehabilitating and opening the Stone House for exhibit as a field hospital. He also suggested stabilizing the Dogan House and stationing interpretive personnel there. Ronald Lee, chief of the NPS Division of Interpretation, agreed with most of Wilshin's proposals, except staffing the Dogan House. Its proximity to the visitor center and the Stone House precluded adding another contact station there. [12]

Mindful of the value of providing the public with tangible indications of troop positions for both battles, Wilshin proposed mounting cannon and markers. He suggested that the park's library collection be bolstered to assist in the extensive research needed to establish the exact positions of key batteries. Wilshin initiated a search for cannon and quickly achieved success, obtaining seven cannon from the Chickamauga-Chattanooga and Petersburg National Military Parks in 1956. The Eastern National Park and Monument Association also provided period guns and two carriages, which were used to mark the location of James Ricketts's and Charles Griffin's Federal batteries during First Manassas. [13]

Wilshin's suggestions for Mission 66 at the Manassas battlefield park did not depart significantly from proposals offered by previous park superintendents. Myers wanted to augment the tour marker system, especially for Second Manassas. Hanson had conducted initial research on troop positions and had tried to replace temporary markers with permanent ones. Hanson had also proposed constructing a separate assembly space in the museum-administration building in his initial 1939 museum plans. In the 1930s the National Park Service had intended to build a system of roads and contact stations to assist viewers in touring the proposed 10,000-acre Bull Run Recreational Demonstration Area. Wilshin had the good fortune to serve as superintendent when enhanced funding levels made these dreams a possibility, and he incorporated them into his Mission 66 planning. [14]

Wilshin laid out an ambitious program for the battlefield park that relied on adequate funding and proper management to succeed. His anticipated land acquisition program alone would have required several hundred thousand dollars. When he pursued this funding in conferences with the regional office, he quickly learned that land money remained limited and that Manassas would have to compete with a host of other park areas for what was available. Funding levels also influenced how many narrative markers, museum displays, roads, and other interpretive aids could be built. [15]

To achieve all these Mission 66 plans, the park needed leadership capable of finding the necessary resources and guiding each of the projects to completion. Wilshin eventually overcame the funding limitations for land acquisition, and he oversaw an expansion of the visitor center with a new auditorium wing. Despite these successes, Wilshin failed to complete other significant Mission 66 projects for the park, most notably the renovation of the museum displays. His devotion to certain aspects of the Manassas battlefield story and his commitment to acting both as superintendent and historian at the park determined which Mission 66 projects had his full attention.

CONTINUED continued


History | Links to the Past | National Park Service | Search | Contact


National Park Service's ParkNet Home