Exhibition: The Forgotten World War
The exhibit, a joint effort between the Manassas Museum and the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division, commemorates the 100th anniversary of the “War to End All Wars” and remembers the 29 young men from the area who never returned. The Forgotten World War is one of several exhibits where the museum and the county have worked together to bring history to life.“We knew that we wanted to take part in the statewide commemorations for World War I and II by doing a special exhibit. We also wanted to partner with Prince William County on this endeavor, since Manassas was still part of the county during World War I,” explains Manassas Museum Curator Mary Helen Dellinger. “The County, as always, was very enthusiastic about doing another joint exhibit. We selected a home front theme since so many other places are doing military-related exhibitions. We wanted to do something different, and I think this exhibit fits the bill.”
Jessica Alicea, a Prince William County Historic Preservation Division Site Manager who collaborated on the exhibit, agrees. “The importance of the joint exhibit is two-fold; it's the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I, but more importantly, we will explore how the war affected our county, and specifically feature those who served in the war from Prince William County.”In Prince William County and Manassas, residents felt the war’s impact not only in the absence of the area’s young men, but in voluntary efforts to conserve wheat, sugar and other staples, establish gardens, raise animals for food, support the Red Cross, and buy Liberty Bonds. By November of 1918, the worldwide Influenza epidemic hit the area hard, and even Manassas’ young doctor succumbed to the disease when treating his many patients.
There was also an influx of soldiers training at two new bases. Marine Barracks Quantico was established in May 1917 with a garrison of just fewer than 100 Marines. By the time the war was over, thousands of men had passed through those gates before being sent to France. Camp A.A. Humphreys in Fairfax (known today as Fort Belvoir) transformed from a small training ground to a large base that taught more than 55,000 soldiers military engineering, chemical and trench warfare and field fortification techniques. These bases are still fixtures in the area where tens of thousands of soldiers live and train.