Thursday, August 30, 2012

Civil War Sunday Special Edition - Birds and Battles

On August 28-30, 1862, Federal and Confederate troops fought near Manassas, Virginia and Bull Run Creek for the second time.

Thirteen months earlier, troops had fought the first major battle of the Civil War.  Troops were not battle-tested.  Some local people packed picnic baskets to make a day of it.  No one seemed to know exactly what to do, although they learned fast.

This time it was General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia facing Major General Pope's Army of the Potomac.  Once again, Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson was there. Different battle but the same end result - the Confederates won again, leading to the Maryland Campaign I will be following for the next month.

Now, where death once ruled, birders come to explore the battlefield.

Yes, 150 years later, many people visit the Bull Run (Manassas) battlefields - to bird.  I was a little surprised to discover this battlefield park of some 5,000. acres (the two battles overlapped some of the same territory) spans a lot of different bird habitats.

The list of birds sighted there is quite impressive.

Online, you can even find a list of birds sighted earlier this month in the parking lot of the New York Volunteers monument.  I've read that Bull Run Creek itself is prime birding territory.

I am not a birder, but I have always loved birds - watching them, owning them (earlier in my life), and listening to their songs.  But, except for people preserving history and memory, this land would have been gone.  Based on what has happened in the surrounding area, it is logical to assume that this 5,000 acres would have been paved over with a housing development or shopping center built on the site.

The site where some 3200 Federal and Confederate soldiers died, those three days in August of 1862.

Our American Civil War was horrible, as is all war.

It is humbling, though, to realize that the creatures of Mother Nature do not care - the birds do not care - they have their own concerns and do not trouble themselves with ours.

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