Ben Lomond House — From plantation to Civil War hospital Special

Posted Nov 13, 2014 by Leigh Goessl
Manassas, Virginia is full of history. The town, located about 25 miles west of Washington, D.C., is probably best known for its role in the American Civil War.
The First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) took place in July 1861 and the impact on that day was significant since the events on that day made both the Union and Confederate leaders realize this was not to be a quick war. The Second Battle of Bull Run took place just over a year later in August 1862 and was also a severe battle.
Much of this history is pretty well known and documented. In 2013 I wrote the article "Stone House lives to tell the tale of two U.S. Civil War battles" which highlighted a structure that survived both battles. However, there is another structure just a few miles to the south of the Stone House that also played an important role — the Ben Lomond Historic Site.
The house has a long history, dating back to 1830. The land was originally owned by Robert “Councillor” Carter III, a man who inherited extensive land grants throughout Virginia from Robert “King” Carter, a major land baron. He named his plantation "Cancer Plantation" (12 of his 18 properties were named after zodiac signs). After his passing, his land was passed to his heirs. A man by the name of Benjamin Tasker Chinn (a grandson) inherited the Manassas site and two years later had a grand 2-story Federal style house built. Other structures included a dairy, kitchen, smokehouse and slave quarters. In 1838 Chinn married Edmonia Randolph Carter who renamed the plantation "Ben Lomond."
In 1851, Chinn moved his family to another home and rented out Ben Lomond. A year later a family named the Pringles would become its tenants. During their time at the home, the family would experience firsthand the horror of war as the Confederate Army took their house and turned it into a hospital. The family was forced to live in one bedroom upstairs during the occupation.
According to Prince William County's website, the house served as a field hospital for more than a month after First Bull Run and then continued to serve as a military hospital for many months to come.
The Confederates evacuated in 1862 and the Federal army took to the house, destroying its furniture and contents. Both armies had left behind graffiti on the walls. The extensive etchings left by soldiers remains on the walls of the main house today. Most is covered up with special paper to protect it, but the museum does keep some examples visible for the public to see. Today's portrayal of the house reflects its Civil War era history and the house is preserved as a hospital.
The original main house, slave quarters, dairy and smoke house still stand today. The kitchen no longer exists.
The tour is an interesting one. I had driven by signs for the house for years, however, never took the road down to actually see the site or take a tour. My visit was about two weeks ago and I was sorry I'd waited. If you are visiting the Manassas National Battlefield, I recommend it. The Ben Lomond Historic Site is open seasonally, but you can also call and make an appointment to visit at 703-367-7872. It is located at 10321 Sudley Manor Dr. Manassas, VA 20109.