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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site
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Page updated Jun 25, 2014 9:46 AM

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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.

  Reenactment at Fort Ward, Northwest Bastion 
Reenactment of the Battle of Fort Stevens, at Fort Ward's Northwest Bastion. Photo, Nina Tisara, Tisara Photography. 

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.

  • Battle of Fort Stevens Reenactment Weekend at Fort Ward, July 12-13, 2014. Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens, with a Living History event and skirmish. Download registration forms, event flyer and Information for Reenactors.

    Saturday’s activities are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a narrated reenactment of the historic 1864 battle at 2 p.m. Sunday’s schedule runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and features a concert by the Federal City Brass Band at 2 p.m. Suggested donation to the event each day is $2/adults and $5/families. The event is weather dependent.

    The event will feature Union and Confederate camps, military and civilian interpreters, and a variety of drills and educational demonstrations. Visitors can also meet President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, and see the president come under fire from Confederate sharpshooters as he did during the actual battle.  Infantry and artillery reenactors will interpret weapons, equipment and tactics of the period as well as army life scenarios. Civilians will portray roles that supported the war effort, from camp laundresses to U.S. government clerks who were mobilized to help defend Fort Stevens from General Jubal Early’s Confederate assault. 

    The Battle of Fort Stevens, also known as “Jubal Early’s Raid on Washington,” occurred on July 11-12, 1864. In an effort to alleviate Union pressure being placed on Robert E. Lee’s army near Petersburg, Early’s forces advanced towards the Federal capital of Washington, D.C. after engaging Northern troops at the Battle of Monocacy near Frederick, Maryland. The  two-day heavy skirmish tested the ability of the northern line of Washington’s defense system to withstand a Confederate attack. During the battle, President Abraham Lincoln came under enemy fire while witnessing the action from the parapet of Fort Stevens. The Battle of Fort Stevens was the only battle fought in the Defenses of Washington, and marked the only time that an American president came under direct enemy fire while in office.  


Captain Miles Field DeskA new 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 will feature 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.


Other News and Information 

  • The Office of Historic Alexandria is engaged in an effort to study and preserve the post-Civil War historic resources of Fort Ward Park. Learn more about recent archaeological excavations in the Park, the Stakeholder Advisory Group, and relevant archaeological and historical information. Visit the Park to see new historic signage highlighting the post-Civil War African American community known as "The Fort."
  • 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.


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.

Battle of Fort Stevens Reenactment Weekend at Fort Ward 2014
Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens, with a Living History event and skirmish.



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American Alliance of Museums
Accredited Museum




Fort Ward Museum 
& Historic Site
4301 West Braddock Road
Alexandria, Virginia 22304
Fax: 703.671.7350

Museum Hours
Tuesday - Saturday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m.
Monday, Closed

Park Hours
Daily, 9 a.m. to sunset

Office Hours
Tuesday - Saturday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.