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
National Park Service Arrowhead

Expanding the Boundaries

Finding a Congressional Ally

Opposition from the Prince William Board of County Supervisors squashed the Park Service's initial foray into boundary expansion in the early 1970s. Still committed to the idea of preserving more lands at Manassas, LeKander and Snyder decided to take another tack. In late 1974 they approached Stan Parris (R-Va.), their U.S. Representative who had recently lost his bid for reelection, and asked that he introduce a bill in Congress. Parris agreed and submitted a bill that LeKander helped draft. No action resulted, but, as Snyder later remembered, "at least we got it on the books." Then in early 1975, Snyder and LeKander, both lifelong Republicans, "swallowed [their] pride" and talked to their new congressman, Democrat Herb Harris. [11]

What Snyder and LeKander quickly discovered was that Herbert E. Harris II, a transplanted Midwesterner, had gained a great appreciation for history and the environment while living in Virginia. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Harris had moved to the Washington, D.C., area in 1951 and practiced international and antitrust law. He became active in Fairfax County politics, helping to establish community parks and preserve green space, and served on that county's board of supervisors from 1968 to 1974. From there, he won election to the U.S. Congress. Although he had established himself on the East Coast, Harris never lost the sense of fascination in history "that you can only get as a Midwesterner [who] comes to Virginia." He found that many Virginians took much of this history and "precious, precious heritage" for granted because they had been near it for so long. The longer Harris lived amidst the past, the more committed he be came to its preservation. [12]

Snyder and LeKander did not know what to expect in their initial meeting with Harris. They had some trepidation about how they would be received by their Democratic congressman, especially since they had lobbied for the Republican Parris during the election campaign. But their ardent belief in saving the battlefield park and the surrounding countryside from outside development guided their presentation and made a convert of Herb Harris. All three shared an interest in preserving historical areas and open space. Harris later admitted that "it's impossible to talk to people like [Snyder and LeKander] without being instilled with the same fervor that they have." He responded to their plea in a very businesslike fashion and sent one of his legislative aides to the park to investigate. What Harris learned convinced him to act, first by proposing a boundary expansion bill to Congress and then by addressing a revived attempt to build a national cemetery at the battlefield park. [13]

In June 1975 Harris introduced legislation that authorized the Department of the Interior to acquire 1,500 acres for the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Lands listed for acquisition included the Brawner Farm, which was located north of the Marriott tract along Lee Highway and was the site of the opening engagement of the Second Battle of Manassas. The Harris bill extended the southern park boundary to Interstate 66 by designating tracts for purchase or for scenic easements. Harris included lands near the Stone Bridge to protect this structure from commercial development. Privately owned tracts designated for inclusion under the 1954 boundary legislation had scenic easements placed on them. [14]

Harris adopted a pragmatic approach and did not include Stuart's Hill, which was then owned by the Marriott Corporation, in his legislative proposal. Snyder and LeKander had argued for its incorporation, noting its historic significance to Second Manassas and the threat the Marriott development posed to the park and its rural surroundings. Strident opposition from the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, however, kept Snyder's and LeKander's pleas at bay. The county saw the Marriott land as an important source of tax revenues and refused to support its transfer to a tax-exempt status under the federal government. This unremitting resistance, along with opposition by Marriott, forced Harris, like the National Park Service in 1973, to remove Stuart's Hill from consideration. Harris realized he would not succeed in adding any new land to the battlefield park if he refused to compromise on the Marriott land. [15]

With Stuart's Hill excluded, Harris proceeded to guide his bill toward law. He held public meetings and obtained input from the Prince William County historical commission. Harris oversaw its passage by the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs and the full House, which sent it to the Senate as part of a park omnibus bill. There Harris encountered opposition from Sen. William Scott. As the representative for Virginia's Eighth Congressional District in the late 1960s, Scott had proposed building a national cemetery at the Manassas park. Responding to concerns raised in the local community, Scott opposed including some of the lands designated in the 1975 Harris bill. Harris worked with Scott to obtain a compromise bill and achieved some success. Scott reportedly agreed to the adjustments just as the congressional session ended, but he placed a hold on the legislation and left for the Philippines. When contacted overseas, Scott refused to lift the hold, and Harris's first attempt at Manassas battlefield park boundary expansion came to naught. Over the next five years, Harris tried three more times, always balancing historicity and practical exigency. [16]

As the 1975 expansion bill fizzled, the idea of placing a national cemetery at the Manassas National Battlefield Park resurfaced. The need to find an extension to Arlington remained pressing, and in 1975 the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) revisited the idea of using the Manassas battlefields. The Park Service reluctantly agreed to have soil tests done at the park, and these determined it would make an "outstanding national cemetery." Veterans Administration representatives put Manassas at the top of their list for a cemetery, noting its proximity to Washington, D.C., and its gently undulating, aesthetically pleasing landscape of woods and open lands. Its historic associations with past military conflicts and the fact that the land was federally owned added to its attractiveness. [17]

Realizing that the VA's recommendations to Congress might have sufficient weight to win, the Park Service reiterated former director Hartzog's 1969 statement on the cemetery question and unequivocally refused further consideration of the park's land for the cemetery. Citing a 1975 Suitability/Feasibility Study that Park Superintendent Hoffman had completed, Director Gary Everhardt argued that the cemetery would destroy the historic scene of the fields and woods, which aided in the interpretation and understanding of the two Manassas battles. The Park Service considered the alteration of the historic sites by the cemetery as inappropriate to the mission of the national park. Everhardt and the secretary of the interior, as Hartzog had done, encouraged the VA to buy land adjacent to the national park. The Park Service's firm stand on the national cemetery proposal shows the limits of its historical pragmatism. The NPS may have been willing to compromise on development outside existing park boundaries, but the battlefield park itself continued to focus on history and interpretation. [18]

The Veterans Administration might have let the issue die and considered an alternative site, but some members of Congress favored the Manassas National Battlefield Park for the cemetery. During hearings in November 1975, Rep. George Danielson (D-Calif.) argued that the land proposed for the cemetery did not serve "any useful purpose" in the Civil War. He viewed Second Manassas, which took place on the land slated for the cemetery, as a rerun of the First Battle of Manassas. Danielson also defended the national cemetery proposal on the grounds that not many visitors came to the park and thus the area would be better served as a cemetery. He offered to "sound out" his colleagues on the appropriate committees to pursue the Manassas site. One person who supported Danielson's position was Senator Scott. [19]

Within this climate of opinion, Snyder and LeKander pressed Harris to come to the battlefield park's aid. In a letter to Harris, LeKander argued that the national cemetery threat to Manassas was as ludicrous as placing "Disneyland in the heart of Yosemite." For LeKander, the cemetery would destroy the historicity of the battlefield park and bring unwanted development to the area. Harris agreed, but he faced a dilemma. He understood that the Arlington National Cemetery needed an annex soon, and he would "feel great pride" if the new cemetery were located in northern Virginia. But the idea of losing the "precious historical resource" at the Manassas battlefield park also seemed "very wrong." To resolve this conflict, Harris scouted for other suitable locations and found the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia. Quantico, which LeKander had touted in 1969 and which the VA had rated just below Manassas as a potential site, offered a considerable amount of unused acreage close to a major interstate. Its soil was also suitable for burial purposes. With these favorable characteristics, Quantico seemed the best alternative location for the national cemetery. [20]

Harris acted quickly to secure this site and remove any consideration of the Manassas National Battlefield Park as the place for a national cemetery. In December 1975 he submitted H.R. 11140, which designated 620 acres at Quantico as an annex to Arlington. Harris then went to the public to garner support. In a town meeting at Dumfries, Virginia, on 16 January 1976, Harris heard "not one single voice of opposition or resistance" to his newly proposed bill. Further unified assistance came from a hefty number of local and state organizations and the two local newspapers serving the area. More remarkable, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted unanimously on 6 January to adopt a resolution of support. The board recognized that the national cemetery, now slated for land already federally owned, would not adversely affect the county's real estate tax structure. The fact that the county would not have to build additional transportation, water, and sewer services also made Quantico attractive to the supervisors. Congress responded favorably to the broad base of support Harris had amassed and voted to make Quantico a national cemetery. The Manassas National Battlefield Park escaped another threat to its mission of preserving and interpreting Civil War history. [21]

CONTINUED continued


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