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

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

current topic 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 8
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Expanding the Boundaries

Why Save More Lands?

Richard Hoffman realized the value of adjusting the battlefield park's boundaries soon after arriving in 1973. Three days before he officially took up his post as superintendent, he wandered the park as an anonymous tourist. Unable to find clear demarcations of where the protected areas ended and private property began, he concluded that the park had a "lousy boundary line." In some cases, national park land appeared to be private because the Park Service had leased the land to local residents to farm. This arrangement was beneficial for the Park Service as it allowed the land to be used as it was during the Civil War. Local residents also benefited from the opportunity to produce and sell more agricultural products. In Hoffman's view, though, interpretation suffered. Because many visitors could not distinguish between park land and private property, they did not explore all the park's resources. [4]

Hoffman's concern over the park's boundaries fed into additional worries over park interpretation and resource management. This combination of factors led him to support boundary expansion legislation. For example, he knew from his historians that many of the park's natural resources did not match the lay of the land at the time of the two Civil War battles. A solid stand of pine trees had grown up near the embankment of the unfinished railroad and obscured the clear view that had existed during Second Manassas. A diorama in the visitor center, which showed Confederate troops fighting Union forces with stones in open fields, emphasized the incongruity between the historical facts and existing reality. Hoffman decided to tear down the pine trees, but he found himself locking horns with Annie Snyder. [5]

Snyder, "just madder than hops" about the prospect of losing the beautiful forest, demanded that Hoffman defend his decision. After showing her the diorama, Hoffman took Snyder to the unfinished railroad and explained that the pine trees contradicted the history of the battle told in the visitor center. Snyder agreed that the pine trees presented visitors with historical inaccuracies, but she also felt the trees were valuable to the community. The tall stand of pines offered a natural barrier, separating residential areas and the park from traffic along the major roads. The trees cleaned the air of pollutants and acted as deterrents to erosion. The tall dense pine trees were also aesthetically pleasing, blocking views of the urban developments slowly moving into the area and providing a parklike atmosphere. Snyder wanted to preserve some of these qualities and sought a balance between strict historical accuracy and local interests. She asked Hoffman if he would "thin" the trees, and Hoffman responded by encouraging her to work with him on a mutually agreeable resource management plan. As the tree-cutting example suggests, Snyder's park advocacy encompassed the needs of both historic preservationists and park neighbors. She had stated in the 1969 House hearings on the national cemetery that the Manassas National Battlefield Park had a value to historical purists who wanted to see the woods and pastures "precisely as they were" during the battles and to urban dwellers who wanted to "hike, picnic, ride horseback, or simply enjoy" the open space. [6]

This dual-purpose view of the battlefield park was shared by others, and this became apparent as Hoffman met more residents, including Gilbert LeKander, and learned of their concerns. LeKander had joined Snyder in opposing the 1969 national cemetery proposal and had spoken against the Marriott theme park at a 1973 congressional hearing. The completion of Interstate 66 brought suburban developments to the once quiet town of Manassas, of which the Marriott theme park and office complex proposal was only the most visible example. Longtime residents like Snyder and LeKander wanted to preserve the rural feeling of their community and protect the historical associations of the battlefield park. Before the Marriott proposal, most of the land along the park's boundaries had been farmed. With Marriott came the prospect of twentieth-century office buildings, entertainment complexes, and shopping centers built up to the edges of the park. From Snyder's and LeKander's point of view, these intrusions jarred the historical sensibility and disrupted the open feeling of the landscape. For Hoffman, whose principal task was park protection, the proposed construction threatened the park's integrity and highlighted the importance of acquiring all significant land before the opportunity was lost forever. [7]

Manassas boundary expansion was under consideration in 1971 when the Department of the Interior sought a ""less cumbersome means" than individual legislation to obtain increases in appropriation ceilings and to adjust boundaries for a range of parks. Interior proposed umbrella legislation that would allow the Park Service to meet the conditions expressed in each national park unit's authorizing legislation in a timely fashion. Senate Subcommittee Chairman Alan Bible (D-Nev.) spearheaded the congressional effort to obtain passage of this legislation. He asked the Park Service to review its park units and list those areas needing adjustments. The National Capital Regional Office, which soon afterwards obtained jurisdiction over the Manassas National Battlefield Park, recommended that Congress extend the Manassas park boundaries. These proposed changes shed further light on what became the agency's implied policy on the Manassas battlefield park, which combined historical idealism with the practicality of dealing with twentieth-century intrusions. Reflecting historical purity, the boundary adjustments included extending the park's western border to in corporate lands known to have significance to the Second Battle of Manassas, including Stuart's Hill and the Brawner Farm, located on either side of Lee Highway west of Groveton Road—Featherbed Lane. Another historically informed boundary change included Stony Ridge, where Jackson's lines fought in Second Manassas. National Capital Region officials recommended acquiring the Wheeler Farm, both for its historic value and its ability to protect the southeastern corner of the park. From the pragmatic side, the regional office suggested placing a buffer of 750 feet along Bull Run in Fairfax County and a scenic easement on the Bacilli tract, which was located near the northeast section of the park and was being threatened with residential development. The Park Service also recommended buying land around Stone Bridge in Fairfax County to remove a gas station. [8]

When the National Capital Region voiced its recommendations in 1971, the idea of incorporating Stuart's Hill into the battlefield park met with instant opposition from the county supervisors. Prince William County officials had identified the area along both sides of I-66 between Gainesville and Route 234 as a regional employment center and did not want its economic plans thwarted by the Park Service. Wanting to ensure the economic health of the county, the board of county supervisors favored development that was consistent with the county's master plan. [9]

The county's opposition to the recommended boundary changes forced the Service to reconsider. In an effort to avoid stalling the entire park bill under consideration by Senator Bible's committee, the agency dropped Manassas, allowing for passage of the umbrella legislation in 1972. Resolution of what lands should be added to the Manassas battlefield park remained. The decision centered on the controversial Stuart's Hill, especially after Marriott announced its intention in 1973 to build the Great America theme park on that tract, a proposal the economic-minded Prince William County officials warmly embraced.

Historical idealism did not offer a clear-cut position for the Park Service to follow. Former superintendent Wilshin described Stuart's Hill as crucial for understanding the events of Second Manassas. Bearss, a recognized expert within the Park Service on the Civil War, wrote in 1973 that the Marriott theme park would occupy "key and critical sites" associated with the Second Battle of Manassas. Yet, as other historians pointed out, blood was not shed on the land in any significant military actions. How should the Park Service evaluate this tract? Was it sufficient to preserve only lands where soldiers died in battle? Or did the Park Service have a responsibility to provide visitors with lands that help explain why certain military actions were taken? If the latter, then what definable limits existed for the Park Service to preserve historically significant lands that had not seen significant battle action? In the 1970s the Park Service avoided addressing these questions directly; instead it followed an implied policy of what could be called pragmatic authenticity, seeking a balance between historical significance and practical considerations about local land use. Areas marked for inclusion had either seen fighting during the two Civil War battles or would act as a buffer to outside development. The agency's official policy stayed undefined, leaving open the opportunity for negotiation as events unfolded. [10]

CONTINUED continued


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