"Fortifications of Immense Strength"
During the Civil War, two railroads—the Manassas Gap and the Orange and Alexandria—intersected here. Manassas Junction was strategically important to both the Union and the Confederacy as a supply depot and for military transportation. Two of the war's great battles were fought nearby. Diaries, letters, and newspaper articles documented the war's effects on civilians as well as the thousand of soldiers who passed through the junction.
Early in May 1861, Col. Philip St. George Cocke arrived here to refine plans for the fortification of Manassas Junction, which had already begun. Confederate president Jefferson Davis had directed Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, the "Hero of Fort Sumter," to take command of the forces here and direct the construction of the fortifications. In three months, thirteen earthwork forts, numerous rifle pits, and a network of connecting trenches were built to protect the railroad and the army's base surrounding the junction.
"Spades and pickaxes [were] so disgustinglyplentiful that the mere sight of them was enough to send men to the hospital." —Diaryof Henry C. Monier, 10th Louisiana Infantry
"I frequently strolled down to the Junction, to watch the progress of our preparations. A large redoubt about half a mile long, and a quarter wide had been erected. It was at least ten feet high, and as many wide on top, with a large ditch in front. ... There were several smaller batteries placed in front on elevations, and the works altogether seemed formidable enough o protect the depot and stores, should the enemy penetrate so far." —"An English Combatant" describing Manassas Junction about June 1861
"The sound of the spade and axe handled by individuals who never before dreamed of becoming experienced in an art so extremely fatiguing and unprofitable. Among those becoming experienced in the use of the spade you might find your humble sevt." —Letter, Charles I. Batchelor, Atchafalaya Guard, Louisiana. to Albert Batchelor, Oct. 10, 1861