Sunday, August 23, 2015


It's hazy and humid on these ridges and plains of this Manassas battle field, probably I'd imagine, just about the same weather the soldiers from the North and South who fought each other encountered, considering it's the same month yet 150 and change years apart.

And boy is it gorgeous. To say walking through fields where 11,300 people died in a confusing and bloody battle over the span of just three days is a spiritual experience, well that's an understatement.

If trees could talk.

The ground, which undoubtedly is layered upon copious amounts of long dried blood, the forests, even a few houses remain intact, remain virtually as it was in 1862.

One major change is the population, and the traffic and noise that comes with it.

I walk down a wooden fence-lined hill with Civil War cannons still at ready and towards Lee Highway, which separates the battlefield, and I have to push a button at a traffic light in order to safely cross the insanely busy thoroughfare. A truck bellowing out smog from its exhaust pipe followed by a line of Audis, Honda coupes, and Jeeps gets the green left turn arrow for Sudley Road and blows past me.

I begin to re think that whole spiritual experience thing.

But this whole area, if nothing else, is purposeful.

Before humans, deer foraged for plants here, and were stalked by wolves. Then came the Original Americans meandering and hunting, followed by the Anglo Saxons, dirt roads, railroads, and freeways. All of this simply, because it made sense. For this is the Shenandoah Valley, a fertile and flat area tucked between two less hospitable walls of mountains that extend for hundreds of miles.

Lee Highway, I-66, Sudley Road, these all exist for the same reasons those ancient animals traversed these plains, for the same reason Native Americans utilized the lands for thousands of years - accessibility.

Call it geographical determinism when, on that day in 1862, Northerners wanted to defend DC while also to suppress the Southern rebellion in their own de facto capital of Richmond, VA and this little crossroads happened to be the easiest path between the two.

I try to keep this in mind while standing here on Manassas battlefield with all its noise, and traffic congestion, and busyness. The battle would never have happened here, if it wouldn't one day look like this in August 2015.

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

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