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Manassas gears up for Civil War sesquicentennial

Wednesday - 7/6/2011, 10:21am  ET

Manassas
Manassas Battlefield. (Photo courtesy of the Prince William County Convention and Visitor's Bureau)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

MANASSAS, Va. - It will be a reflective look at the past that could boost the economy and review old wounds.

For four days this summer, July 21 through 24, Historic Manassas will host a long list of free Manassas Civil War Commemorative events recognizing the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War and the First Battle of Manassas.

Visitors will be able to watch the Blue and Gray clash on the fields of Manassas, hear the Lincoln- Douglas debate that was a prelude to the war, and get a look at what slave quarters looked like in 1861.

Historic Manassas Executive Director Debbie Haight says the 150th commemoration of the famous battle, also called "Bull Run" could bring in an estimated 150,000 people to the area around the small town of Manassas.

In 1861, Manassas was a strategic, but sleepy rail junction linking North to South. Today, it's a diverse suburban community with an Old Town flavor right in the middle of the the hustle and bustle of the capital region.

Visitors should plan ahead for difficult parking conditions. The city is encouraging all visitors to park outside the downtown area at the Prince William County Fairgrounds. Buses will shuttle visitors to the downtown area, as well as near each of seven venues. Shuttle tickets for $20 are on sale now.

Tickets are available at $75 per person for the Sesquicentennial Blue and Gray Ball on July 23.

The Manassas events are among the first in what will be a four year commemoration of the Civil War in Virginia and at other places across the country.

More than 620,000 Americans on both sides died during the Civil War between 1861 and 1865, more than those killed in all other American wars combined.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)