Soldiers Rest

Soldiers Rest was built to provide a rest for soldiers traveling through Alexandria by train, but was used as a hospital in the summer of 1864.

Page updated on Mar 8, 2020 at 2:09 PM
Soldiers Rest (color drawing) Image 1: Detail from “SOLDIERS REST, ALEXANDRIA, VA.” Lithograph by Charles Magnus, 1864. Library of Congress.
Soldiers Rest (cropped) Image 2: Soldiers Rest. (Image cropped.) Library of Congress.
Soldiers Rest Interior Image 3: Cooks in the kitchen at Soldiers Rest. (Image cropped.) Library of Congress.
Soldiers Rest, Quartermaster Map Quartermaster Plan of Soldiers Rest. A note on the plan states that "These buildings are constructed substantially & finished in an efficient & tasty style, and every precaution taken to render them pleasant, comfortable and healthy." 
Soldiers Rest, Quartermaster Map (elevation) Quartermaster map showing elevations of the buildings.
Soldiers Rest, Quartermaster Map (key 1)
Soldiers Rest, Quartermaster Map (key 2) Key to the elevations. (See Transcription.)
Soldiers Rest TodayThe Old Town Village townhouse complex now occupies the site.
Civil War Hospitals Map: Soldiers Rest

History of Soldiers Rest

South side Duke Street, near S. West Street

Soldiers Rest was built near the Orange and Alexandria Rail Road Depot to provide a rest for soldiers traveling through Alexandria by train. The complex was used as a hospital from May 28 to October 4, 1864, according to relief worker Julia Wilbur. During that time it was part of the 1st Division General Hospital and then returned to use as a rest stop. (Source: Civil War DC website, from National Archives data.)

First Person Accounts

From the Alexandria Gazette, October 21, 1863:
Designed for the accommodation of U.S. troops arriving and remaining temporarily in this place, recently built at the upper end of Duke Street near the O&ARR depot, is said to be the largest and most complete establishment for the purpose contemplated, in the U.S. or anywhere else. It has sleeping apartments, bathing rooms, reading rooms, etc. etc. The estimated cost of the whole establishment is $50,000 

From the Alexandria Gazette, November 12, 1866:  

Later disposed of at public auction (1866) “The buildings and fences on the property at the upper end of Duke Street… and known latterly as Soldier’s Rest, were disposed of on Saturday morning last, at public auction, by officers of the United States government, to gentlemen of this city, at comparatively cheap rates, and the buildings will be speedily removed.”
 

From a letter of Julia Wilbur, Nov. 20, 1863 to Mrs. Barnes. Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society Papers, 1851-1868, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan:

The Soldier’s Rest is guarded by 75 of the Invalid Corps. They are kept very strict. I was there a few days ago, & had some Anti Slavery & temperance tracts. They [soldiers] almost grabbed them, they have no reading there now.

Historic Images

Image 1

Image 2:

Image 3:

Quartermaster Map

The Quartermaster Map includes a plan and elevation, and a key to the structures. Soldiers Rest includes a dormitory, large kitchen, dining hall, bath house and guard house. (See transcription below.)

Location and the Site Today

Located on the south side of Duke Street, near S. West Street, Shiloh Baptist Church's meeting center and Old Town Village townhouses now occupy the extensive site.


Transcription of the Key to the Elevation of Structures at Soldiers Rest:

AA  Is a view of the East Gable main building  KK  Is the East view Barracks 
aa  Is the vertical section of the same  L  Is the North view Barracks 
Aa  Are porches around the mainbuilding and to the Dining room  LL  Is the South view Barracks 
B  Is the North view dining room  MM  Are vertical sections of the same (Barracks) 
b  Is the vertical section of the same (Dining room)  NN  Are vertical long sections of the same 
bb  Is the gang way from the mainbuilding to Dining Room  O  Is the East view of the Bath house 
bbbb  Is the vertical section of the same  o  Is the vertical section of the same 
C  Is a view of the North gable Bath house  P  Is the view of the North gable water closet 
c  Is the vertical section of the same  p q  Are vertical sections of the same 
DD  Is the North side view of the Kitchen  Q  Is the East view guard house 
dd  Is the vertical section of the same  R  Is a view of the North gable guard house 
E  Is the view of the North gable Store Room  r s  Are vertical sections of the same 
e  Is the vertical section of the same  S  Is the west view of the same 
F  Is the Northeast main Gate  TTT  Is a view of the East side mainbuilding 
G  Is the Northwest Gate on Duke St.  ttt  Is the vertical section of the same 
H  Is a view of the North gable water closet  UUU  Is the East side view dining room 
HH  Is a view of the flag Staff and flag  uuu  Is the vertical section of the same 
J  Is the North view guard house  v  Is the vertical section of the same (East/West view Store House) 
    W  Is the South view of the Store House 
    WW  Is the vertical section of the same 
    YY  Is the Hose House 
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