“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Manassas in Prince William County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Signal Hill

“Look out for your left, you are turned”

Signal Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 15, 2021
1. Signal Hill Marker
In July, 1861 this hilltop was devoid of trees and offered an excellent view of the surrounding country. Capt. Edward P. Alexander took advantage of this and quickly established a signal station here. The excellent visibility enabled the signal to "wigwag" messages to other Confederate positions without the aid of a signal tower. As Union Gen. Irvin McDowell's army approached, the Centerville station was abandoned but Alexander's men continued to send vital intelligence from one end of the Confederate line to the other.

On the morning of July 21, 1861, Alexander was posted here. A Union diversionary attack at the Stone Bridge seven miles northwest required him to keep watch on the Van Pelt signal station. Alexander later wrote that when he looked to the left of that station about 8:45 A.M., "my eye was caught by a glitter in this narrow band of green. I recognized it at once as the reflection of the morning sun from a brass field-piece. Closer scrutiny soon revealed the glittering of bayonets and musket barrels." Alexander had spotted a large Union column marching toward Sudley Springs to turn the Confederate left

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flank. He immediately signaled the Van Pelt station to warn Col. Nathan G. Evans, in command at the Stone Bridge, "Look out for your left, you are turned." It was the first time in history that the wigwag system had been used in combat. Alexander's timely warning enabled Evans to intercept the Union flanking column and buy time for Confederate reinforcements, contributing significantly to the Confederate victory at First Manassas.

This Oct. 1862 image shows a Union signal station in Md. Although the station here had no tower, the Confederate signalmen likely used a telescope to observe signals from other stations.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: CommunicationsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1861.
Location. 38° 45.185′ N, 77° 26.298′ W. Marker is near Manassas, Virginia, in Prince William County. Marker is on Signal View Drive, 0.1 miles south of Roseberry Farm Drive, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7970 Blooms Rd, Manassas VA 20111, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Signal Hill Monument (here, next to this marker); Building Mayfield Fort

Signal Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 15, 2021
2. Signal Hill Marker
(approx. ¾ mile away); Battle of Bull Run Bridge (approx. ¾ mile away); a different marker also named Battle of Bull Run Bridge (approx. 0.8 miles away); Casualties of Battle (approx. 0.8 miles away); Role of Mayfield in Battle of First Manassas (approx. 0.8 miles away); Preservation of Mayfield Fort (approx. 0.8 miles away); Building the Fort System (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Manassas.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has replaced the linked marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 15, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 266 times since then and 70 times this year. Last updated on May 15, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 15, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Jun. 17, 2024