The American Civil War in Richmond, Virginia

For most of the Civil War, Richmond, Virginia served as the capitol of the Confederate States of America. Union forces made numerous attempts to retake this site of great strategic—and symbolic—importance, inspired by the battle cry: "On to Richmond!" Its proximity to the fighting made Richmond a center for hospitals and military prisons. On April 3, 1865, Richmond fell to the Union army; General Robert E. Lee surrendered soon after, ending the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse. This tour explores Richmond's central role during the most formative conflict in United States history—and remembers those who fought in it.

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Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument
The Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument was designed by F. William Sievers, the sculptor who had previously created the "Stonewall" Jackson Monument. Maury's monument was unveiled in 1929. The piece consists of granite pedestal, a bronze sculpture of Maury in a seated position, and a large bronze globe. The inscription below Maury labels him "Pathfinder of the Seas," a tribute to his work on sea navigation and research in oceanography, as well as his role as a Confederate naval officer.
Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson Monument
F. Williams Sievers designed Richmond's “Stonewall” Jackson Monument (Sievers would later design the Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument as well). This statue was erected in October 1919. Sievers originally wanted the statue to face south, toward the majority of oncoming traffic, but he was overruled by veterans, who wanted the statue to face north, toward Jackson's Union opponents. Following the violent white supremacist demonstration in nearby Charlottesville in August of 2017, two great-great-grandsons of Jackson have called for the removal of this and other Confederate monuments from public spaces in an open letter (link below).
Jefferson Davis Monument
Architect William C. Noland and sculptor Edward V. Valentine designed Richmond's Jefferson Davis monument, erected in 1907 to honor the president of the Confederate States of America. Around this time period, several Confederate monuments were constructed in Richmond. As historian William Cooper Jr. puts it, Richmond was not only the "former capital of the Confederacy," but also "the capital of its memory." The monuments to Davis and other Confederate leaders along Monument Avenue represent white Southerners' efforts to promote the values and institutions of the Confederacy, despite its defeat decades ago.
General Robert E. Lee Monument
As the cornerstone of Richmond’s Monument Avenue Historic District, the Robert E. Lee Monument is the first and largest of the monuments along the district’s thoroughfare. This statue, designed by Jean Antoine Mercie and cast in four sections, was dedicated during a Confederate reunion to a crowd of 10,000 on May 29, 1890. The Robert E. Lee Monument became the unofficial center of Richmond. During the next 30 years, five more Confederate monuments were erected along Monument Avenue, creating the nation’s only surviving grand, residential boulevard with monuments of its scale remaining largely unaltered. Since the erection of the Robert E. Lee Monument, controversy has continued to surround the existence of Monument Avenue in regards to its promotion of the Lost Cause ideology. The City of Richmond is actively reevaluating the social perception of Monument Avenue in an effort to appropriately interpret its monuments. Richmond’s Monument Avenue was designated a Virginia Landmark on December 2, 1969, added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 16, 1970, and designated a National Historic Landmark on December 3, 1997.
J.E.B. Stuart Monument
Sculptor Frederick Moynihan designed this tribute to Confederate Major General James Ewell Brown (J.E.B.) Stuart (1833-1864). The monument was unveiled in 1907, the same year as the nearby Jefferson Davis Monument. The Stuart and Davis monuments joined the equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee on Richmond's Monument Avenue, which served as a public glorification of the Confederacy, its heroes, and its Southern values.
Richmond Howitzers Monument
This statue, a reminder of Virginia’s Confederate past, honors a military unit of volunteers who fought extensively for the confederation known as the Richmond Howitzers. After the Civil War was over, the Howitzer Battalion was absorbed in the US Army and fought valiantly in both World Wars. This statue was dedicated in 1892 and reflect's the South's use of monuments to commemorate the "Lost Cause" of secession.
Hollywood Cemetery
Located on the bluffs of the James River in Richmond, VA, Hollywood Cemetery is second only to Arlington National Cemetery in numbers of visitors each year. Hollywood Cemetery is 135-acres and features an unusual artistry in its design. It is often called “garden cemetery” and was designed by notable architect John Notman of Philadelphia in 1847. There are approximately 18,000 Confederate soldiers interred at the cemetery. Other Civil War notables buried here are General George Pickett and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. President James Monroe and President John Tyler are also buried at Hollywood. Admission is free and historic walking tours are available April through October, Monday-Saturday.
Belle Isle Historic District and Civil War Prison
Belle Isle was originally known as Broad Rock Island. It was first explored by Captain John Smith in 1607. The island has served several purposes over time. In the 18th century, it was a fishery. In 1814, it was utilized as a nail factory ran by the Old Dominion Iron and Nail Company. During the 1860s, the island was home to a small a village with its own school, church, and general store. During the Civil War, the island served as a prison for Union soldiers. Between 1904 and the 1963, the island was home to the Virginia Electric Power Company. Today, Belle Isle is a 540-acre historic site and park for the city of Richmond, reachable by foot or bicycle via a suspension bridge that runs under the Robert E. Lee Bridge. Belle Isle has several bike trails and offers historic markers, walking trails, and attractions such as rock climbing.
The American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar
Named after the famous iron works in Tredegar, Wales, the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond began operations in 1837. Joseph Reid Anderson took control of the foundry in the 1840s and developed Tredegar into the largest iron foundry in the American South. During the Civil War, the Confederacy relied almost entirely on the foundry for all wartime iron ordnances, producing over 1,000 cannons and an equally large number of munitions. Tredegar survived the Civil War and continued to produce iron products into the 20th-Century. A fire in 1952 gutted the main production facility which prompted the descendants of Anderson to sell the property and move the Tredegar Iron Works to a new location. The National Park Service acquired the property by 2000 and converted it into a visitor center for the Richmond-area Civil War battlefields. Six years later, the nonprofit American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar opened in the former cannon foundry. Then in 2013, the Museum of the Confederacy merged with the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and formed the new American Civil War Museum, which aims to offer a wider interpretation of the war from all sides. The American Civil War Museum is set to open to the public in May 2019. The Tredegar Iron Works was designated a Virginia Landmark on January 5, 1971, added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 2, 1971, and designated a National Historic Landmark on November 11, 1971.
Virginia State Capitol
Designed by Thomas Jefferson and in operation since 1788, this is the oldest state capitol in the United States and even predates the United States Capitol in Washington. The capitol building is the 8th home of Virginia's government which began in the colonial era with the establishment of the House of Burgesses in 1619. This building also served as the Capitol of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Capitol Square includes monuments and statues honoring Virginians such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, John Marshall, Stonewall Jackson. Newer statues honor leaders of the Civil Rights Movement such as Barbara Johns.
White House of the Confederacy
Constructed in 1818, what became known as the White House of the Confederacy began as a sophisticated Neoclassical style private residence constructed by Robert Mills. The City of Richmond later acquired the house and leased it to the Confederate government as the executive mansion for President Jefferson Davis. After the war, the house served as military headquarters and then a public schoolhouse. In 1896, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society saved the house from demolition and opened the Museum of the Confederacy, becoming the nation’s premiere repository for Confederate artifacts. Throughout the 20th-Century, the museum outgrew the house and a new, contemporary museum building was constructed next door to host the majority of the exhibits. In 2013, the Museum of the Confederacy merged with the American Civil War Center at Tredegar and formed the new American Civil War Museum. The goal of the new museum is to offer a wider interpretation of the war from all sides. In late Summer of 2018, the Museum of the Confederacy closed its doors in preparation for its move to the new consolidated museum at Historic Tredegar. The American Civil War Museum is set to open in 2019. The Confederate White House is remains open to the public for daily tours. The White House of the Confederacy was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960, designated a Virginia Landmark on October 15, 1966, and added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
Chimborazo Hospital Historical Marker
Chimborazo Hospital served as a very important Confederate hospital during the Civil War. Although the hospital no longer stands, a museum stands in its place to commemorate the Confederate hospital and its superior work for its time. While in operation, the hospital was often referred to as, "The Hospital on the Hill." The museum in its stead serves as part of the Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Richmond National Cemetery
Richmond National Cemetery was established barely a year after the end of the Civil War, and it lies within what once were the fortification lines built by the Confederate Army. As wartime had flooded Richmond’s earlier cemeteries with corpses, the first burials on this site were re-internments from Oakwood Cemetery and Hollywood Cemetery. Richmond National Cemetery is a reminder of the brutalities that war inflicted on the city and its inhabitants.
Dabbs House Museum
The Dabbs House has served as both a historic home, a police station, a home for the poor, and a headquarters for Confederate General Robert E. Lee during two critical months of the Civil War. Today, the home is a house museum with exhibit galleries and a research library. The museum and home are open to the public, with daily tours of the home and the museums exhibits and gift shop. Visitors can start their tour with a video on the history of the Dabbs House. For those interested in a more in-depth study of the history of the area, the Research Library houses books and many other resources related to the the Civil War in Henrico County.

This tour was created by Angelica Garcia on 12/19/16 .

This tour has been taken 640 times within the past year.

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