Prospero’s Bookstore – (Heaven)

Another great time was had at the 150th anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas Civil War event on Friday – but, boy was it hot! I don’t know how the re-enactors did it, especially with the sun beating down on the wide, open battlefield.

I signed books before and after the parade at Prospero’s Bookstore on Center Street, selling completely out of my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray, and only having a few copies of my new novel Noble Cause left.

Parade down Center St., Manassas.

I sat outside most of the morning and perspired in a most unladylike fashion, but enjoyed meeting people from all over the country. I love that they were willing to travel and endure triple digit temperatures in order to learn about more about our nation’s history.

There was a pretty large crowd gathered for the parade, and everyone that I talked to planned to head to other events despite the heat. According to reports, organizers had signed up 8,700 re-enactors to take part in Saturday’s and Sunday official re-enactment, with 5,700 requesting to be Confederates.

Confederates march in the Parade.

As most of you probably know, First Manassas (or Bull Run) was the largest and bloodiest battle in American history up to that point. Union casualties were 460 killed, 1,124 wounded, and 1,312 missing or captured; Confederate casualties were 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, and 13 missing. The Northern public was shocked at the unexpected defeat of their army when an easy victory had been widely anticipated. The result of this battle is that both sides came to realize the war would be longer and more brutal than they had imagined.

After the crowds had cleared out after the parade, I decided to do a little sightseeing in Manassas. I hiked down Center Street to the Confederate Cemetery – an easy walk on a normal day, but I struggled a little with temps near 100 degrees.

The acre of land for the original cemetery was donated in 1867, and within a year, more than 250 men had been laid to rest. In 1874, the Town of Manassas acquired the adjoining land and began a Citizen’s Cemetery. The cemetery features a statue of a Confederate soldier under which the majority of the soldiers are buried. It was nice to see that someone had placed Confederate flags on other headstones in the cemetery to mark where Confederate veterans had been laid to rest.

From the cemetery, I made my way to the Visitor Center, located in the old train station in Manassas. The Historic Manassas Train Station was constructed in 1904. In 1912 it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt on the original foundation in 1914. The station was completely restored to be historically correct in 1997.

I happened to be taking a photo just as an Amtrak train was pulling in which is kind of an interesting contrast of new meets old.

If you’re thinking about a trip to any Civil War sites, I highly recommend Manassas. The Old Town has some great shopping at antique stores – and Prospero’s Bookstore is a landmark that you must visit. Many thanks to all those who made the Manassas event a very memorable one!

Jessica James


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