Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ox Hill - 150 Years Ago Today

     Today marks the Sesquicentennial observance of the final action in the 2nd Manassas Campaign. A small park remains to commemorate the action that left two Union generals dead, and opened the door to Lee's first invasion of the North. Today this field of battle is surrounded by the residential and commercial sprawl of Fairfax County, the area where I grew up. It wasn't until shortly before the developer's machines transformed the ground that I was able to visit the site, around 1987. It sat overgrown in the outskirts of Fairfax City, rarely drawing attention until it became the target of our "modernization". So much has changed in that region from when I was a kid. Between Fairfax and the Manassas Battlefield only small traces remain to mark the vast activity that swept over the land from 1861-1865. Less than one one hundredth of the acreage that comprised the field of battle at Ox Hill remains undisturbed. The Fairfax County government maintains the 4.8 acre park with interpretive signage and two monuments to the commanders in blue who fell in the former farm fields. Here is a link to the official county website: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/oxhill/
I recommend for further reading, the current and future work of writer and publisher William B. Styple: http://www.bellegrovepublishing.com/888150.html
 
A fanciful depiction of the moment General Phillip Kearny was killed, as painted by Augustus Tholey, and published by John Smith, 804 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1867.
 
     On October 2, 1915, descendants gathered for the dedication of a monument to General Philip Kearny, killed in action, September 1, 1862. John Watts Kearny, the general's son, stands behind the monument. Great granddaughter Lucy Kearny Hill, stands at right in the front row.
Original photograph courtesy of the Kearny Town Historian, Kearny, NJ

The same view on July 19, 2010
Ox Hill Battlefield Park, Fairfax, VA

Looking south across the battlefield of September 1, 1862.

The mysterious "Kearny Stump", once thought to mark the
 spot the general died, but long since disproved.
 
Quartz rock placed by Confederate veteran and one time property owner, John Ballard,
to mark where General Isaac Stevens fell during the first Union assault of the day.

The monuments to Generals Stevens and Kearny. The thin band of trees
 beyond masks the development that claimed most of the battlefield.

A view of the Fairfax County park to memorialize the battle
 that ended the Second Manassas Campaign.

Looking southwest across Monument Drive at the battlefield pull off.
At right of center are two Virginia Historical markers, as seen below.

Click the images for enlarged viewing.

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