Friday, September 21, 2012

Brawner's Farm or Gainesville?

The first fight of what became the Iron Brigade was fought August 28, 1862, just outside Manassas Junction, Virginia, in the opening of the battle of Second Bull Run. It is now commonly called Brawner's Farm. But a century or more ago a veteran of the Black Hats would have looked at you in puzzlement if you asked about the fighting using that name. In the 1860s it was known as Gainesville to the Federals and sometimes Groveton to the Confederates. My friend the late Alan Nolan used Brawner Farm for the first time in 1961 in his outstanding book on the Iron Brigade as a way to correctly locate the action. A look at the reunion ribbons of the Iron Brigade, however, clearly identify the 90-minutes of fighting as Gainesville. I am sometimes conflicted when hearing someone doing a living history impression talk about "Brawner's Farm" as putting the battle in the wrong century. What is one to do?


  1. Engage them in conversation as a vet. would and call the battle Gainsville and ask them where Brawners farm is located.


  2. From my research, I am pretty convinced the veterans were unaware of the John Brawner connection to where they fought August 28, 1862. I also think use of Gainesville to describe what is now Brawner's Farm came into usage late in the war after the regimental reports were written. I would interested in finding a letter or reference to the Brawner farm in a period letter.