Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stamps commemorate the start of the Civil War

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War the Post office is going to release their first of a series do Civil War stamps in April. The first one out are of the shelling of Fort Sumter which was the first fighting of the war, and of the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) which was the first large battle of the war.

Northern Virginia was a 'front lines' area of the War for most of the four year conflict. Several days before the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run), a lesser known battle took place in and around the stream known as Bull Run. This was the Battle of Blackburn's Ford. Today this site is where Rt. 28 crosses from Fairfax to Prince William County. There is a small parking lot for access to the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail, and a historic marker that tells the story of Blackburn's Ford.

The background of the commemorative sheet that these two stamps will be on shows a photo from 1861 of Union Soldiers in formation near Falls Church, Virginia. It will be interesting to examine this photo closer when it is released. It well could be that this is a photo of Upton Hills. Today Upton Hills is a Regional Park on Wilson Blvd, in Arlington on the Fairfax County/Falls Church boarder. During the Civil War Upton Hills was strategic high ground. In the early days of the War, the Confederates built a fort here that included Quaker guns (wooden logs painted black to look like cannons). The Union Army took over this site and built Fort Ramsay that included real cannons and an observation tower.

The First Battle of Bull Run (also known as the First Battle of Manassas) go the war started in a big way. It is interesting to note that the last shots of the war were fired very near that first big battle.

One day after Lee surrendered at Appomattox, some of Mosby's Rangers went into Fairfax County to attack the Burke Train Station. They found themselves in a retreating fight against Union cavalry. The fast moving fight ended on the banks of Bull Run at Wolf Run Shoal.

Lieut. James G. Wiltshire of Mosby's Rangers later remarked to a friend: "Has it never struck you as being a notable fact that the first big fight of the war occurred on Bull Run and the last shots of the war in Virginia were fired on the banks of that same stream?"

Today Manassas National Battlefield Park protects the site of the First and Second Battles of Bull Run (Manassas). The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns the area of Bull Run where both the last shots of the war were fired and where the Battle of Blackburn's Ford was fought. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority also owns Upton Hill in the Falls Church/Arlington area.

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