This August marks the 161st Anniversary of the Battle of Second Manassas, the second major battle of the American Civil War. The battle was fought between Aug 28 - 30, 1862, in Prince William County, Virginia, just north of the city of Manassas and about thirty miles west-southwest of Washington, D.C.
It was the culmination of the Northern Virginia Campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia, and a battle of much larger scale and numbers than the First Battle of Bull Run fought on July 21, 1861 on the same ground.
While a lot has changed around Manassas in the 160 plus years since that dreadful day, we are fortunate to be able to visit the over 5000 acres that make up Manassas National Battlefield Park. Today the battlefield park provides the opportunity for visitors to explore the historic terrain where men fought and died for their beliefs a century ago.
As years passed, Mother Nature took over the land; where there was once wide open fields and long vistas, trees and brush now grew. Hiding many of the historic sites and obscuring views for visitors. In keeping with the historical accuracy and significance of the battlefield, the National Park Service knew they needed to do something. The focus was to clear overgrown fields and clear view-sheds to recreate the landscape that was present 160 years ago. In the winter of 2022, they posted a solicitation for contractors to submit pricing and methods for a large scale timber clearing and restoration project. In total, it was 19.5 acres of tree clearing and stump grinding, followed by restoration planting of native grass species.
Thats where we, JR Landworks came in. Located just miles from the park, in Marshall, VA, we were eager for the opportunity to participate in such a pivotal project. The bid process was competitive but in the end, we were awarded the contract as best value to the Federal Government.
Then the fun began, in March of 2022 our crews began cutting trees in the first section, near Chinn Ridge. To mitigate impact to the sensitive battlefield grounds, the equipment was compact in size and almost all on rubber tracks. We utilized our fleet of high performance compact tracked loaders, a medium sized excavator and our Morbark tracked chipper clear and process the almost 20 acres of trees and brush. We placed timber access mats at all construction entrances to limit disturbance further by dissipating the weight of loaded trucks.
Learn more about the clearing methods: https://www.jrlandworks.com/forestrymulching
Much of the woody material was removed from the project site and recycled in one way or another. Grade (high quality) logs went to sawmills to be cut and used in oak barrels or fence boards, lower quality logs were sent to rail road tie mills and crooked or hollow logs found their way to firewood processors. Approximately 6,000 cubic yards of wood chips were generated off this project. The majority of them went to biomass plants to be burned in order to produce energy, the remainder went to local mulch producers.
After the clearing and stump grinding operations were complete, the 19.5 acres were seeded with native grass and pollinator species. For this a no-till drill pulled behind a compact tractor maneuvered in a cross hatch pattern over the entire project site, ensuring complete coverage and the necessary seed to soil contact. Once the final construction entrance was removed all that was left was to left Mother Nature once again take the reigns.
Since the last machine was hauled away to now, the grass and pollinator growth has been spectacular. For new visitors it is almost like there were never trees in this now green, lush pastures. Exactly what the National Park Service wanted. We feel honored to participate in such an unique and impactful project. If you are able to get to Chinn Ridge and look out in the distance, I hope you will appreciate the view that now exists from the efforts of many people and organizations.