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First Manassas Reenactment, 1961

In July 1961, Manassas National Battlefield Park hosted the first, and as it turned out, only reenactment of a Civil War battle in a National Park. The event was a logistical nightmare. There were not enough reenactors to accurately portray both armies. In addition, there were so many people, participants and observers, the Park Service was not able to provide adequate facilities. Several visitors and reenactors were injured. And, all of the modern intrusions had to be screened. Further, the reenactment was viewed as an entertaining event, rather than as a portrayal of a deadly serious battle in which thousands of men were killed or wounded.

Following this event, the Park Service decided to concentrate on using living history rather than reenactments for interpretive programs. Employees or volunteers dressed in period uniforms could demonstrate and explain the various tactics and maneuvers to visitors. Thus, a visitor could learn from living historians and gain a better understanding of what it was like to be a Civil War soldier.

Modern Reenactors should get a kick out of the inaccuracies of many of the uniforms seen in these photographs. Most of the images were shot on July 22, 1961,

100th anniversary reenactment of 1st Manassas
Click the thumbnails to see a larger view
48 k Superintendent Francis F. Wilshin oversees the preparations for the reenactment. Notice the camouflage coverings over the Visitor Center in the background. The same coverings are being readied for the Jackson monument behind the Superintendent. Shot Jul. 20 or 21
Then and Now (70 k)
88 k The Superintendent poses for the camera as if directing the setup. In the background can be seen the grand stands for the event to take place the next day. Shot July 20 or 21.
Then and Now (87 k)
92 k Several "Dead" solders watch the action from behind the lines.
93 k  
56 k Shot from near the Henry House looking toward the Visitor Center which can be seen covered in camouflage netting
Then and Now (77 k)
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71 k  
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42 k A farewell kiss from the wives
35 k Eugene F. Allen of Co. G, 1st MD. Regt. with his wife and daughter Mary Lea
46 k "There stands Jackson like a stonewall". Stonewall Jackson was portrayed by George Bisacca of Lenox, Massachusetts.
47 k This photo of Jackson is credited United Press International
42 k The Park Visitor Center before the auditorium was added on the left.

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