The End of Innocence
A New Day is Dawning
The battle outside raging
will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times, they are a-changing
.
These Bob Dylan lyrics, though written for twentieth-century ears, also reflect the reality of the
turmoil as war began to touch the lives of Americans in the summer of 1861.
Northeastern Virginians who took the time to record their impressions noted that Sunday,
July 21st, 1861, was a remarkably beautiful summer morning.   In the area near Sudley Ford
over Bull Run Creek, just north of Manassas Junction, Virginia, many of the local residents
were out, dressed in their Sunday finest, preparing to attend services at Sudley church. In
fact, some accounts indicate that a number of worshippers had already arrived at the church,
little suspecting what was soon to unfold before them.
Around 9 o’clock that morning, 13,000 Union troops under division commanders David
Hunter and Samuel Heintzelman approached Sudley Ford, nearing completion of their
flanking movement around the Confederate army; a maneuver they had begun nearly seven
hours earlier. Captain E.P. Alexander, Chief Signal Officer for General P.G.T. Beauregard
(commander of the Confederate forces in the area), positioned on a signal station on
Wilcoxen Hill near Manassas Junction, was the first to spot the Federals approaching from
the north: “. . .(C)areful observation. . .detailed the glitter of bayonets all along a road
crossing the valley. . .”  The first of the Union troops passed Sudley church around 9:30;
within 30 minutes the church was converted to a battlefield hospital.
“I wish I could adequately describe the loveliness of this summer Sabbath morning.  In the
midst of war we were in peace.  There was not a cloud in the sky; a gentle breeze rustled the
foliage over our heads, mingling its murmurs with the soft notes of the wood-birds; the thick
carpet of leaves under our feet deadened the sound of the artillery wheels and of the tramp of
men.  Everybody felt the influence of the scene, and the men, marching on their leafy path,
spoke in subdued tones.  A Rhode Island officer riding beside me quoted some lines from
Wordsworth fitting the morning, which I am sorry I cannot recall.  Colonel Slocum of the
Second Rhode Island rode up and joined in our talk about the peaceful aspect of nature
around us.  In less than an hour I saw him killed while cheering on his men. . .”
                                           -Lieutenant Colonel Francis S. Fiske, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry
View the next painting in the series:  The Awakening
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January 2, 2013
Original Artwork
Framed size: 36 1/2 x 31 1/2
Image size: 27 3/4 x 21 3/4
Price:  $3,000.00

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