This modenook.com writer loves history, any kind, be it American history or world, ancient or even family history. The other day, while channel hopping, I ran across a ‘repeat’ show on one of the public service channels dealing with the Battle of Bull Run.
The First Battle of Bull Run, or as some people refer to it, the First Battle of Manassas, took place on July 28th. of 1861.We are told this by Edward Ayers, President of the University of Richmond, himself a noted historian of the Civil War.
In giving his keynote address this day, on July 28th. of 2011, he tells those gathered that on this very ground, now called the Manassas National Battlefiield Park, it has been 150 years to the day when the confrontation between northern forces and their counterparts took place.
The property was originally owned by a free-black man by the name of James Robinson. He and his family, a wife and 8 children lived here and worked their farm. Robinson’s neighbors were white folks.
Manassas is in Prince William County, not far from Washington. At that time in Virginia’s history, there was a major railroad junction not too far from the Robinson farm. This made Manassas an important railroad center for the north and the south.
At the start of fighting, it was crucial that the south retain control of the rail line, or loose it to the Union forces. It’s importance as a means of moving supplies and reinforcements for both sides was reason enough to fight.
Mr. Ayers pointed out this First Battle of Manassas was important for a couple of firsts that took place. It was the first time in modern warfare that balloons were used by both sides as observation posts. It is also the first time that flags, ‘semaphores’ were used by the railroad.
The battle turned out badly for the Union forces that day. They were driven back, as were the ‘audience’ of the well to do from Washington’s elite, who had come down by carriage to watch.
The casulties were about even, with 5,000 deaths recorded. Many people had thought this would be the extent of the war itself, a squirmish or maybe two; and that would be the end of it.
No one could have known the extent of the feelings held by many southerners when it came to the question of slaveholding. President Lincoln came to the conclusion that slavery would indeed have to be abolished in order to end the conflict. His decision prompted the Second Battle of Bull Run 16 months later.
Everyone is wondering how NECCO’s comes into this story, right? Well, cameras running, commentators interviewed a few of the ‘Southern troops’ re-inactors. One rebel was happy to show what soliders carried in their knapsacks.
Opening a little homemade sack with a drawstring, he dumped some candy wafers into his hand. This writer recognized them immediately as one of her favorite candies, NECCO’s.
The rebel solider went on to say the candy has been around since 1849! That prompted further research, and sure enough, what he said was true. NECCO is an anacronym for the ‘New England Confectionary Company’.
The company originally started with the partnership of two companies, Chase and Company, and Ball and Forbes of Boston. Today it is known as the largest establishment devoted entirely to confections in the United States.