Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater (DE Docent). A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. The USS Slater is now open. I plan on walking in Albany on Monday, Memorial Day, May 27. You can contact me at:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

06/20/2012 - Manassas

This is a relatively short walk that starts at the Manassas Henry Hill Visitor Center. Before you start walking I highly recommend that you check the visitor center for the guided ranger tours.

There were two distinct battles that occurred here that were separated by 14 months. The guided tour of the 1st Manassas helps puts the Civil War in context.  Basically, 1st Manassas was the first large scale battle of the Civil War.  Instead of a battle of trained armies, this was a battle of  amateurs.  As I listened to the guide I got the mental picture of high school football teams and marching bands shooting at one another.  There were very few trained leaders, and even fewer trained and EFFECTIVE leaders.  General Thomas Jackson, hereafter called Stonewall, was one notable exception.

Do not go on a guided tour of the 2nd Battle without listening to the 1st.  The South seemed to learn quicker than the North.  In large part this was the result of excellent leadership.  Especially when contrasted with Union commanders like General Pope.  However (in my opinion) at all levels, the southern units were more experienced.  And they had the home court advantage.  Simply put, because the South had fewer resources, southern Units fought more often.   Following the disaster of the 1st Bull Run many union soldiers were mustered out of service.  They were replaced with new (untrained) units.  Also, union soldiers, recruited from the eastern cities were at a disadvantage compared to confederate soldiers and union soldiers recruited from the west.  Basic  marksmanship skills and other wilderness related skills had to be learned by eastern recruits. Green Union units from the west like the Wisconsin Iron Brigade entered combat with certain advantages.   

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