Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site
Fort Ward is the best preserved of the system of Union forts and batteries built to protect Washington, DC during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Fort Ward Museum interprets the site's history and offers exhibits on Civil War topics, education and interpretive programs, tours, lecture and video series, bus tours, and living history activities throughout the year. The Museum and Historic Site also interpret Alexandria, Virginia as an occupied city, the city's role as a vital Union Army crossroads, life within the Defenses of Washington, and the everyday life of Civil War soldiers and civilians.
The historic fort provides visitors with an excellent understanding of Civil War-era military engineering. About 90% of the fort's earthwork walls are preserved and the Northwest Bastion has been restored and reconstructed to its original condition.
Civil War Sesquicentennial Events and Information
To help tell the story of the City's Civil War past, the Office of Historic Alexandria is holding many special events and exhibitions throughout the
Civil War Sesquicentennial. Witness to war and reunion, Alexandria's place in Civil War history is truly unique. Learn more about Alexandria during the war with a wide range of historic resources. Alexandria, surrounding jurisdictions and the National Park Service have created the Alexandria Civil War Defenses of Washington Bike Trail as part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial commemorations.
Check out the
Calendar of Events for the latest information on Sesquicentennial events at Fort Ward and throughout Historic Alexandria, including Lectures, Dance Classes, Movies, Civil War Sundays, and more.
A public walkway, which meets the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, begins at the fort’s reconstructed entrance gate and leads visitors to the restored Northwest Bastion. Construction was supported by a Save America’s Treasures grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior, matched by City of Alexandria funding. Construction of the walkway yielded an important discovery – the site of the fort’s well, which City archaeologists partially investigated and documented. The well site corresponds with the location designated by military engineers on an 1864 plan of Fort Ward.
exhibition, "50 Years of Collecting: An Anniversary Exhibit of Objects from the Fort Ward Collection," celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site.
The exhibit features some rare items related to the Defenses of Washington, such as an 1862 panoramic drawing of Fort Albany by the soldier-artist William Lydston; a folding camp chair that belonged to an officer in the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery; and a Lambley’s portable copying machine used by an officer from the 57th Massachusetts Infantry. Objects that interpret the Union occupation of Alexandria, such as a proclamation declaring martial law in the city, are also featured. Examples of newly acquired objects are a field desk with personal belongings owned by a captain in the 107th New York Infantry, and a John Rogers statuary group, “Uncle Ned’s School,” which aimed to portray the efforts of newly freed African Americans to better their lives through education in the post-war years.
For Civil War Reenactors
Information for Civil War Reenactors: The Fort Ward Museum enlists the talents and knowledge of reenactors to offer numerous living history programs interpreting Civil War soldier and civilian life. Programs contribute to the public’s understanding of the period and enhance the Museum’s educational mission.
The Fort: A Post-Civil War African American Community
Visit Fort Ward Park to see new historic signage highlighting the post-Civil War African American community known as The Fort. A copy of The Fort Heritage Trail Brochure is available online.
This community is the focus of an effort by the Office of Historic Alexandria to study and preserve the post-Civil War historic resources of Fort Ward Park. Archaeological excavations in the park, historical research, and oral histories highlight our growing knowledge of this community. Learn about the Stakeholder Advisory Group , and about archaeological and historical research, including reports on excavations, transcriptions of oral history interviews with former residents.
American Alliance of Museums