Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia, preserves and protects the land and resources associated with the First and Second Battles of Manassas. The park is located on the northern tip of the Piedmont Plateau within the Culpeper Basin (Fleming and Weber 2003). It is situated approximately 2 miles (4 km) northwest of Manassas, Virginia, and 26 miles (42 km) west of Washington, D.C. The park comprises 2,073 acres (839 ha) of forests, varying from early succession stands of Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana) to relatively mature oak-hickory and bottomland hardwood forests (Fleming and Weber 2003). Hay fields, abandoned fields, and a high-use administrative area account for 3,000 acres (1,214 ha) of the park.
Figure 1A. Original (assumed) location of S. D. Lee’s cannon line and interpretive wayside exhibit, prior to GIS analysis and scene restoration.
Figure 1B. The view from the S. D. Lee wayside after scene restoration reveals a clearing and ridgeline at the left side of the photograph.
Much of the park’s vegetation patterns, particularly the arrangement of open and forested areas, are now as they were historically. However, some areas that were grassland during the battles have subsequently grown up into forest, or were already forested when acquired by the park. In these areas, the historical vistas that helped determine the strategies and locations of cannons and troops of the combatants have been blocked from view (figs. 1A and 1B, above). Woodlands that obstructed historical lines of sight and corresponding fields of fire are important for understanding the nature of the fighting on the afternoon of 30 August 1862. Unfortunately, the intervening maturation of forests has made interpretation of the Second Battle of Manassas, especially the fighting that occurred on 28 and 30 August, nearly impossible.
Gorsira, B., R.C. De La Fuente, and S. Denniston. 2012. Using GIS analysis to help determine Civil War cannon locations in Manassas National Battlefield Park. Park Science 29(1):16–18.
Available at http://www.nature.nps.gov/ParkScience/archive/PDF/Article_PDFs/ParkScience29(1)SpringSummer2012_16-18_Gorsira_et_al_2861.pdf.