Near Manassas in Prince William County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Battleﬁeld In 1862
Command and Communications at Lee's Headquarters - Signaling At Stuart's Hill
—Stuart's Hill Kiosk —
The Battlefield in 1862
At the time of the Civil War, the area of the Battlefield was largely agricultural. Fields and pastures alternated with woods, while modest farmsteads and middling plantations dotted the landscape. This rural community became the backdrop for dramatic events in 1862.
Key terrain features influenced the decisions of commanders. Roads and narrow lanes became important corridors for military movement, while the open and gently rolling hills provided room for maneuver. A cleared Brawner Farm afforded space for massing artillery. Nearby, the embankments of an unfinished railroad furnished an excellent defensive position and a geographical focus to the fighting.
Command and Communications at Lee's Headquarters
Major B.S. White described Lee's headquarters as located on "...a piece of old fields, grown up with broom-sage, and a good deal of undergrowth and locust trees; looked as if at once time there had been an old residence there - dilapidated, run down, destroyed..."
On August 29, 1862, Confederate General Robert. E. Lee, commanding the Army of Northern Virginia, arrived here on Monroe Hill (now known as Stuart's Hill) to assume command of the battle begun the previous evening at Brawner Farm. As he surveyed the fields from
Stuart's Hill provided a central location for Lee with Jackson's men to the left, beyond the Brawner Farm, Longstreet's to the right and the open fields before him. Army headquarters, meanwhile, buzzed with activity. His staff prepared orders and assisted in sorting information coming from messengers, couriers, cavalry, and signalmen. Charles Marshall, an aide, even climbed a tree to increase his range of vision. As Lee pondered his opportunities, his headquarters kept the army in communication and able to respond to orders quickly and efficiently.
Signaling at Stuart's Hill
In the midst of battle, members of the Signal Corps provided an invaluable service to the Confederate high command. From signal stations posted on high ground, corpsman transmitted encoded messages by waving flags by day or torches by night. This system of visual signaling, known as wigwagging, allowed a commander to relay orders and information speedily among his widely scattered forces.
During the Second Battle of Manassas, Captains Richard E. Wilbourn and Joseph L. Bartlett operated a signal station on Stuart's Hill. From this commanding vantage point, they provided a vital communication link between Lee's command post here and Stonewall
"I signaled from General Lee's Headquarters on the Warrenton pike to General Jackson's position across the pike to near some wheat-stacks, bearing nearly north, distant about 2 miles..."
From Captain J.L. Bartlett's report, August 30, 1862.
Location. 38° 48.306′ N, 77° 34.197′ W. Marker is near Manassas, Virginia, in Prince William County. Marker can be reached from Pageland Lane 32 miles south of Lee Highway (U.S. 29), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Located at the Stuart Hill Center, in the western side of Manassas National Battlefield Park. Marker is in this post office area: Manassas VA 20109, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Stuart's Hill Walking Trail (within shouting distance of this marker); Stuart's Hill (within shouting distance of this marker); The Battle Begins (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Dunklin Monument (approx. ¼ mile away); Meadowville (approx. ¼ mile away); Lee, Longstreet and Jackson Meeting (approx. half a mile away); Archeology at Brawner Farm (approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named The Battle Begins (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Manassas.
More about this marker.
In the center panel, on the upper left is a painting of Lee on horseback, captioned, General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Army of Northern Virginia, came to the Second Battle of Manassas with the hope of destroying Major General John Pope's Army of Virginia. From the original painting "Lee on Traveller" by Mort Kunstler, (c) 1995 Mort Kunstler, Inc.
On the right panel are portraits of Captain Richard E. Wilbourn and Edward Porter Alexander, who introduced the first Confederate use of flag signals at First Mansassas, July 1861. At the lower right is an Illustration of flag code from Albert J. Myer's Manual of Siganls and items in a signalman's kit, found in Myer's Manual.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 3, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,240 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 3, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 7. submitted on December 17, 2008.