Luray to Manassas


August 21, 2013

Eric found a book at a book-sale, called the Dictionary of the Civil War. It was published in 1959, and though it is almost as old as us, unlike us it shows no signs of wear. The author explains on the first page, that his wife wrote at least half of the book, but refused to be listed as an author. I don’t know why I mention that here except that it is so amazing to think about.

The Civil War is (was) a big deal in Virginia. If we were totally unaware of the fact that we are approaching the 150th anniversary of the war in New York, we were well aware of that here. The middle part of the vacation, between the mountains and the sea, was devoted to Civil War sites.

Well two, anyway.

The first stop on the way out of Shenandoah, was New Market. The fact that it is on the road between the mountains and the sea, is not coincidental. The road in some form or another was always the east west road that brought supplies from the west to the coast. The Northern army understood the need to cut off the supply chain and the Southern army understood the need to keep it open. So this big battle happened. It involved the cadets from the Virginia Military Institute, who just so happen to run the museum. Actually, a VMI graduate, left the funds for the building and the running of the place which houses the Museum of the Civil War.

We watched movie, Field of Lost Shoes, which tells the story of the battle from the point of view of several of the cadets. The one who became most famous was Moses Exekial, the first (and presumably only ) Jewish cadet who survived the battle and moved to Italy and became a famous sculptor.We only saw a picture of sculpture Virginia Remember’s Her Dead. The real one is in a nearby town.

Strained glass window from the museum

Strained glass window from the museum

We walked around the field explored the preserved house (including a surgery, with the frightening surgical tools of the era)the guide reminded us that there were no antibiotics in the era, and wounds to limbs often ended in amputation.

Jacob Bushong's Farm, which was around during the 1864 Battle of New Market

Jacob Bushong’s Farm, which was around during the 1864 Battle of New Market


We browsed the exhibits in the Museum of the Civil War,which made me wonder if what the taught me in school about the North wining the war was really correct

I had noticed on the way in a Frozen Custard stand. I have long mourned the loss of frozen custard in New York. Not since they closed Gertz Jamaica in the late 1970’s have I had a reliable source. So it was worth the trip back to get a cone.P1010475

Alas though the stand itself was worthy of my nostalgic reveries, the ice cream tasted like regular old soft serve.

We ended our day in Manassas- I started the day in the laundromat in Luray. (actually- another distant memory of my childhood- doing laundry in a laundrommat) and Eric was in charge of figuring out where to stay. He picked Manasas, or Bull Run. Now that we are Civil War mavens, I can explain that the North and the South named the same battle grounds with different names.

We entered the park after sunset and long after the Visitor’s Center had closed, so we browsed the old homestead, the replica canons and the battle fields without period- costumed re-enacters or very much more explanation than what was available in a 1959 dictionary of the Civil War.

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