Black History Month Program at Fort Ward Explores Local African American Civil War Experience

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Historian C.R. Gibbs to Lecture on February 26

On Saturday, February 26, historian Carroll R. Gibbs will present his lecture, “Whirlwind Coming: African Americans in the District and Alexandria during the Civil War,” at Fort Ward Museum, 4301 West Braddock Road. The lecture is being held in recognition of Black History Month, and is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the Museum library. Cost for the program is $10 per person, and reservations are suggested due to limited space. Please call the Museum at 703.746.4848 to make reservations.

Many former slaves migrated to the Washington area during the Civil War seeking refuge behind Union lines, and alongside free blacks worked for the Union war effort in various capacities.  In his presentation, Mr. Gibbs will discuss the Civil War-era experiences and contributions of African Americans living in the Federal capital and the nearby seaport town of Alexandria, which became a headquarters and transportation center for the Union army. His lecture will highlight the role of civilians as well as some of the U.S. Colored Troop regiments that were associated with the camps and forts that comprised the Civil War Defenses of Washington.

Mr. Gibbs is an historian, author and lecturer specializing in African American history.  He is the author of the book, “Black, Copper & Bright: The District of Columbia’s Black Civil War Regiment.”  He has appeared on the History Channel, and wrote and narrated “Sketches in Color,” a 13-part companion series to the acclaimed PBS series, “The Civil War,” for Howard University’s WHUT-TV. Mr. Gibbs is featured in the Online Academy website sponsored by the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture.  He has received numerous awards for his scholarship, including the 2008 Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation in Public Education, bestowed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia. 

Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site is located at 4301 West Braddock Road in Alexandria.  It was the fifth largest installation within the extensive network of forts known as the Defenses of Washington, which was built to protect the Federal capital during the Civil War.

For more information, please call Fort Ward Museum at 703.746.4848 or visit

Laborers in Alexandria during Civil War 

Laborers in Alexandria during the Civil War. Courtesy National Archives.