- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

The Battle of Blackburns Ford may not have the name recognition of Manassas or the body count of Chancellorsville, but one Northern Virginia man has dedicated himself to giving the site its due.
After two years of lobbying, Mark Trbovich has succeeded in acquiring a historical marker commemorating the battle, which was fought on a section of Bull Run.
The recognition, he said, has been too long in coming.
"I think the people in this area need to know that on July 17, 1861, Confederate forces knew the Union Army would try to cross the Bull Run River at either the fords or bridges en route to Richmond," said Mr. Trbovich, who has lived along the Bull Run River for the past 17 years.
Mr. Trbovich belongs to the Bull Run Civil War Round Table, a private historic preservation group that runs tours through the Manassas Battlefield. He said he first learned of the little-known battle two years ago.
On July 17, 1861, the Confederates — under the command of Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard — dug into a strong natural defensive position at Blackburns Ford, a steeply walled section of the Bull Run River south of Manassas.
The next day, the lead forces of the Union arrived to test the strength of their opponents. The ensuing battle involved about 3,000 men from each side; the Confederates had 15 men killed and 53 wounded, while 19 Union soldiers were killed and 64 wounded. By 4 p.m. July 18, the Union troops were withdrawing from the field.
"It really bothers me that people call this a skirmish," Mr. Trbovich said. "Ill tell you, this is a full-fledged battle. A lot of good men died here, and theres no marker or anything."
He approached Virginia Civil War Trails, a nonprofit group that helps residents raise funds to pay the state of Virginia to put up markers. Markers can cost anywhere between $1,225 and $4,000, depending on who requests it. The state has around 2,300 historical tablets.
"The marker for his site will be the 210th site in the last four years across Virginia where markers tell the story of a Civil War event exactly where it occurred," said Mitch Bowman, executive director of the group. "Its kind of like an outdoor museum."
The marker commemorating the Battle of Blackburns Ford will go up in July, Mr. Bowman said, on the Fairfax and Prince William County line in a parking lot off Route 28 South that leads to the entrance of the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail.
Mr. Trbovich said the encounter proved to be a moral victory for the Southern soldiers, who celebrated thwarting the Union advance as a major battle. It gave them confidence during the bigger Battle of First Manassas three days later.
"In this spot was the battle that … led to a long civil war," he said.
John McAnaw, president of the Bull Run Civil War Round Table, agreed that the battle was significant.
"The Union was repulsed, and it was a tremendous psychological victory for the Confederates," he said. "The fact that [the Union] met resistance in that area contributed to the events that led to the first battle of Manassas."
Mr. Trbovichs marker will be the first along the Bull Run Trail, which runs 17 miles through Fairfax and Prince William counties.
He indicated this marker might be just the beginning."Doing this is kind of a labor of love for me. Id like to put markers at different points all along this trail," he said.


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