This summer, I visited Manassas, Virginia – the site of First and Second Manassas (also known as the First and Second Battles of Bull Run). As my brother’s operating system shut down that morning and refused to do anything but lie in bed and watch Sesame Street, only my dad and I went.

My first thought upon entering the battlefield was hot-hot-HOT-HOT-HOT!!! Indeed, it was extraordinarily hot Рand the high, dry grass of the battlefield (which was, in fact, a field) was home to chiggers Рa particularly nasty species of Lyme-disease-carrying tick (also known as Trombicula alfreddugesi, or The Critter Smaller Than Its Own Name).

Then the tour started, and I forgot all about the heat and the chiggers. There, in the middle of that grassy, yellow-green plain, with the sun beating down on our heads and making us squint, I first heard the story of First Manassas. How Confederate soldiers picked blackberries while fighting.¬†How Union soldiers’ families, sure that their side would triumph, brought packed lunches to the site and watched the battle. How, when things looked especially grim for the Confederates, they spotted General Thomas J. Jackson’s Virginian troops standing unbroken, like a stone wall, and facing the Union – an act that earned Jackson the nickname “Stonewall” Jackson.

For the first time in my life, I found myself truly interested in an era of American history: the Civil War. The war between two brothers, the North and the South. The war that would change the course of American history – forever.

This page is my tribute.

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