2012 promises to be a busy year in the Washington region for commemorations. Maryland will look at the War of 1812, as well as the Battle of Antietam.
In Virginia, the sesquicentennial of the Civil War will provide the opportunity for a “Return to Bull Run"/Manassas (hopefully without the extreme heat), as well as events in Richmond, Fredericksburg, Winchester and Hampton Roads where the two ironclad warships Monitor and Merrimack (CSS Virginia) fought an historic battle.
In Alexandria, the war affected many parts of the city, so there is not necessarily one go to place for a commemoration event. An excellent starting place, however, is the City’s History Museum at the Lyceum.
Three months ago, they opened a new exhibit. Titled “Occupied City, Life in Civil War Alexandria,” and set for a stay until September 2013, the exhibit touches on Alexandrians and how they were affected or participated; the thorny issue, still discussed heatedly today of whether the Union invaded or liberated the city; the number of hospitals (about two dozen), and contrabands who poured into the city.
If you are a railroad aficionado, or “What Was There” buff, you will love the star of this show. A large map of the U.S. Military Railroad Station that was located at the corner of Henry and Wolfe, never before seen by these eyes, is a fascinating look at that area.
Be sure and also visit the permanent exhibit, which has some Civil War items, including part of the flag associated with the Marshall House incident. The third room sports a cannon from the War of 1812.
Admission is $2, they’re open at 10 am, and lunch spots are one block away on King Street.
The “Confederate Museum” (R.E. Lee Hall) is also close by. Check their website, as they are only open on special occasions.