Caution: Two heavily traveled highways divide the Manassas National Battlefield Park. U.S. Route 29 (Lee Highway) follows the historical roadbed of the Warrenton Turnpike, and Sudley Road (Route 234) crosses the turnpike at the Stone house. Use care when driving across or turning onto or off of these highways.
Stop 1: Stone Bridge. The Stone Bridge, crossing Bull Run, is located on Lee Highway, approximately a half mile east of its intersection with Route 234. A parking area is provided on the east side of the bridge.
At 0230, 21 July 1862, Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell’s troops began executing a three-pronged attack. While Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler’s division was to create a diversion at the Stone Bridge, the divisions of Col. David Hunter and Col. Samuel P. Heintzelman would march north and cross Bull Run at Sudley Ford. After turning the Confederate flank, McDowell hoped to destroy the Manassas Gap Railroad at or near Gainesville, thus breaking the line of communications between General Joseph E. Johnston, supposedly at Winchester, and Brig. Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard at Manassas Junction.
Although Tyler was to begin his movement at 0230, his division was over an hour late in getting onto the road. It was not until 0600 when Tyler arrived in the vicinity of the Stone Bridge and began his demonstration.
Defending the Stone Bridge was the small brigade of Col. Nathan G. Evans, about 1,100 men, posted along a ridge perpendicular to the Warrenton Turnpike and about 650 yards west of the bridge. By 0800 it was becoming apparent to Evans that Tyler’s demonstration was simply a feint. A Confederate signal station soon confirmed his suspicions when it alerted Evans to Union troops moving around his left. Evans left a small contingent of his command to watch the bridge and fell back about 1,700 yards to Matthews’ Hill in an attempt to block the Federal flank maneuver. Later during the morning the brigades of Col. Erasmus Keyes and Col. William T. Sherman of Tyler’s division crossed Bull Run at a farm ford about a quarter mile north of the bridge and marched to join McDowell’s forces near Matthews’ Hill.
Stop 2: Matthews’ Hill. This site is located three-quarters of a mile north of the intersection of Lee Highway and Route 234, on the east side of Route 234. A parking area is provided on the northern edge of the ridge.
The Federal flanking column had followed a narrow path through the woods to Sudley Ford, which it crossed about 0930. About 1030 the head of the column, led by the brigade of Col. Ambrose E. Burnside, reached Matthews’ Hill.
Evans’ troops opened fire and halted the Union column, but Col. Andrew Porter’s brigade soon arrived to support Burnside. Outnumbered, Evans sent an urgent request for reinforcements. While the brigades of Brig. Gen. Barnard E. Bee and Col. Francis S. Bartow moved from Henry Hill to Matthews’ Hill, Capt. John Imboden’s battery on Henry Hill opened fire on McDowell’s column. About 1200, after Heintzelman’s division had arrived on Matthews’ Hill and two brigades of Tyler’s division had crossed to the west side of Bull Run just north of the Stone Bridge, Evans’, Bee’s, and Bartow’s men were forced to retreat to Henry Hill.
Stop 3: Stone house. Constructed in the early part of the nineteenth century, this structure was the home of the Henry Matthews family during the Civil War. It is located on the north side of Lee Highway, near its junction with Route 234. A parking area is provided on the east side of the house.
After being driven from Matthews’ Hill, the Confederates withdrew past the Stone house to Henry Hill. Some Confederates sought shelter in the building to fire on the advancing Union troops until the 27th New York Infantry of Porter’s brigade drove them out of the house and across the Warrenton Turnpike. Later, McDowell would use the junction of the turnpike and Route 234 to launch a series of unsuccessful attacks against Henry Hill. Throughout the Union occupation of the intersection, wounded were placed in the relative safety of the Stone house, and a large red flag was displayed on the front of the building to mark it as a makeshift hospital. A well in the front yard provided water for the wounded and other soldiers in the area.
Stop 4: Ricketts’ and Griffin’s batteries. Located between the park Visitor Center and the Henry house.
In the morning the batteries of Capt. James D. Ricketts and Capt. Charles Griffin had been ordered from Dogan Ridge to Henry Hill. Ricketts arrived first and placed his guns just south of the Henry house. Immediately, Confederate snipers in the house started shooting Ricketts’ crewmen and horses. Ricketts turned his guns on the house and eliminated the enemy sharpshooters but also killed the widow Judith Henry. Because of the close proximity of the Confederate line, enemy fire from other parts of the field soon killed and wounded most of Ricketts’ crew and horses, and the guns were captured and recaptured several times during the day. Ricketts himself was severely wounded and captured. On the left of Ricketts’ guns, five guns of Griffin’s battery were placed just north of the Henry house. Two of Griffin’s guns were then moved to the right of Ricketts’ battery, where they were soon captured. Although somewhat protected from Confederate fire by terrain, the remaining three guns of Griffin’s battery still lost many crewmen and horses and were eventually forced to withdraw. During the 1861 battle the Henry house was severely damaged by artillery and small arms fire and by the following year was a complete ruin. The current structure was erected about 1870.
Stop 5: Robinson house. About 800 yards northeast of the Visitor Center stand the foundations of the Robinson house, a structure owned by the free African-American, James Robinson. The house was torn down in 1926 to permit the construction of a larger house, which burned in 1993.
As the disorganized remnants of the brigades of Evans, Bee, and Bartow retreated, the Hampton Legion arrived near the house and fired on approaching Union troops in the direction of Matthews’ Hill. About 1300, two regiments from Keyes’ brigade, the 3d Connecticut and 2d Maine Infantries, crossed the Warrenton Turnpike and advanced into the yard around the house. The Hampton Legion was driven back to the woods east of the house. The 5th Virginia Infantry of Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson’s brigade halted the Union advance by firing from the edge of the wood line about one hundred yards south of the Robinson house. Instead of supporting his attack by sending the remainder of his command forward, Keyes withdrew the regiments from around the Robinson house to the north side of the turnpike and fell back to a position near the Stone Bridge. There the brigade would remain idle for the remainder of the day.
Stop 6: Jackson’s position. Located between the Visitor Center and the Robinson house.
About noon, the five Virginia regiments of Jackson’s brigade arrived on the battlefield and were positioned along the wood line. Johnston and Beauregard arrived soon after, bringing artillery. Thirteen guns were placed on the slight elevation in front of Jackson’s line. The arrival of Jackson and the artillery stabilized the Confederate position on Henry Hill. It was from this line that several attacks were mounted to capture Ricketts’ battery, 400 yards to the west. According to legend, it was near here that Bee, while trying to rally his men, pointed toward Jackson’s brigade and called out, “Look! There stands Jackson like a stonewall!” The nickname “Stonewall” would afterward be associated with Jackson and his brigade.
Stop 7: Griffin’s section. Located yards southeast of the park Visitor Center and adjacent to the Visitor Center parking lot.
From a position north of the Henry house, Griffin brought two guns to this location to enfilade the Confederate line to the north. However, the 33d Virginia Infantry, in civilian attire, soon appeared at the edge of the wood line about a hundred yards away. Griffin was about to open fire on the Virginians when the Union artillery commander, Maj. William F. Barry, arrived and told Griffin to hold his fire because the troops at his front were actually friendly forces. Griffin protested, sure that the troops were Confederates, but Barry insisted and the troops held their fire. The Virginians then fired a volley into the battery, charged, and captured both guns. Griffin and Barry escaped. During the remainder of the day, the two guns would change hands several more times as elements of the two armies captured and recaptured Henry Hill.
Stop 8: Chinn Ridge. Located 1,000 yards west of the Visitor Center. A park road leads to a parking area near the foundations of the home of Benjamin T. Chinn.
In an attempt to outflank the Confederates on Henry Hill, McDowell sent Col. Oliver O. Howard’s brigade from Dogan Ridge, north of the
turnpike, to the crest of Chinn Ridge. However, a brigade led by Brig. Gen. E. Kirby Smith, the last of Johnston’s units to arrive from the Shenandoah Valley on 21 July, soon confronted Howard’s command. Although Smith was wounded, the brigade struck Howard’s men on their right flank and sent them retreating toward the Warrenton Turnpike. The withdrawal of these Union units was hastened by the arrival on Chinn Ridge of other Confederate regiments and also the brigade of Col. Jubal A. Early, who had brought his command from Blackburn’s Ford.
Shortly after 1600, as the Federal right flank collapsed on Chinn Ridge, Beauregard ordered an advance along his entire line. Soon almost all semblance of organization in McDowell’s army was lost, and the Union forces, in small and large groups, began their retreat toward Centreville.
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