It was at Robert E. Lee’s Virginia home, which had been seized by the federal government, that the first important land battle of the Civil War was planned and where Union troops had camped and drilled for several months. The men departed from Arlington House, later to become Arlington Cemetery, on July 16 to march to Manassas where they confronted the Confederates on July 21.

The National Park Service will commemorate Arlington House’s part in the battle with “Prelude to First Manassas” at the historic Lee mansion on July 16 with two programs. The noon to 5 p.m. program includes music as well as reenactors performing camp duties, military drills and musket demonstrations. Guided tours of the cemetery will include a visit to the graves where many of the dead from First Manassas (also known as First Bull Run) are buried.

The 7 to 9 p.m. program is similar, but instead of a cemetery tour, there will be a tour of the grounds surrounding the mansion and a multimedia presentation on a large outdoor screen that will begin at dark.

Both programs are free but reservations are required for the evening event; a reservation will allow visitors to drive through the cemetery to Arlington House. Call 703-235-1530 or go to this website.

During the day, visitors may park at the Arlington National Cemetery Visitors Center and walk to Arlington House.