On September 1, 1862, Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia attempted to outflank the Union army as they retreated from the Second Battle of Manassas along Warrenton Pike (present day Rt. 29). Under a gathering thunderstorm the Union Army was ambushed by the Confederates at a place they called 'Ox Hill' in Chantilly. Thunder, rain and lightning set the scene for the battle. As the soldiers' gunpowder got wet they could not fire their weapons and the battle devolved into hand-to-hand combat with the men using their muskets as brute clubs. The brawl continued until evening darkness forced a stalemate with the Union retreating toward Alexandria. During the battle Union Gen. Kearny was shot from his horse and died in a cornfield. Union Gen. Stevens of the New York 'Highlanders' fell during an assault on the Louisiana Brigade. The Union defeat would pave the way for another battle - one even more bloody than Manassas - two weeks later at Antietam.

Visiting the Chantilly (Ox Hill) Battlefield

Your best bet to visit Chantilly - or 'Ox Hill' as the Confederates called it - is to start at Ox Hill Battlefield Park, a five-acre park that was the scene of the heaviest fighting of the battle. Managed by Fairfax County Park authority, the park features a kiosk describing the battle and a fairly level trail consisting of stone pavers. Interpretive signs and markers describe the battle actions along the way. There are also monuments to the fallen Union Generals Kearny and Stevens. The park is home to green lawns, trees, and flowers, and there are lots of benches for sitting and relaxing and enjoying the view.

Visit Fairfax County Ox Hill Battlefield Park and Civil War Trust for battle details and information about the preservation of this battlefield.

Pictured at the top: The Kearny and Stevens monuments lie along the Ox Hill trail.

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Ox Hill is an urban oasis amidst the bustle of Northern Virginia. The park is home to green lawns, trees and diverse plant-life.

Historical Photo

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General Kearney's gallant charge, at the Battle of Chantilly, Va., 1st of September 1862 Tholey, A. (Library of Congress)