Open Daily 10:00AM–5:00PM
480 Tredegar St.
Richmond, VA 23219
804–649–1861 ext. 100
At the American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar
Two floors of exhibits will take you on a journey from the very beginning of the Civil War to Reconstruction and beyond. Located in downtown Richmond on the James River, the museum sits on the site of the Tredegar Iron Works. Cannons made at Tredegar fired the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter. The thick armor plating that protected the ironclad CSS Virginia (Merrimack) during its fight with the Monitor was rolled at Tredegar. More than half of the cannon used by the Confederate army were cast here.
Before Your Visit
Our parking lot is shared with the City of Richmond and the Riverfront community. Prior to your visit, check our website header for parking closures and alternative options. Parking on-site is included with Museum admission. Bring your ticket from the gate to the admissions desk for a two-hour free validation during your visit. Please allow approximately two hours for your visit to Historic Tredegar.
Interested in visiting multiple ACWM locations? The ACWM values our visitors!
Allow us to add value to your visit and receive discounted admission to multiple locations with a multi-site pass. Visitors can use a multi-site pass to visit multiple sites on the same day or redeem admission to a single site at a later date. Admission to each site can only be redeemed once. For additional questions or assistance with booking, contact our front desk at 1-(804)-649-1861.
*At this time, the multi-site pass discount can only be applied when purchasing tickets at our front desk.
About the Historic Tredegar Ironworks
It all started in 1837, when the first iron forge and rolling mill were built on this site. The vast iron-making machinery ran on water power supplied from raceways fed by the Kanawha canal, turning a 22-foot overshot water wheel and a 15-foot, 6-ton, cast iron flywheel.
Joseph Reid Anderson, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, was hired as a purchasing agent for the iron works in 1841, at the age of 28. He used his military acquaintances to secure government contracts for ordnance and cannon. In a few short years, he was running the place. By 1849, he owned the foundry. Between 1844 and 1860, Tredegar produced 881 cannons for the Federal government. Besides government ordnance, Tredegar made products to support the booming railroad industry: railroad spikes, rails, and axles.
In 1852, Anderson added a boiler and locomotive shop. The iron works continued to grow and by 1860 had a workforce of about 250, including 100 enslaved workers. Increasingly, enslaved laborers were used to fill the positions created by the expanding iron works. During the Civil War, Tredegar produced more than half of the cannons used by the Confederacy and the armor plating used on the new ironclad ships. It had a workforce of more than 1,500 men, half of whom were enslaved and worked in the foundry, the machine shops, and as boatmen in Tredegar’s bateau fleet, transporting supplies along the canals.
Tredegar continued operations after the war making products for the railroad industry and munitions for both world wars. With increasing competition and the inability to make the necessary upgrades for full scale steel production, Tredegar Iron Works ceased operations in 1957.
“Find Yourself In History” ACWM Logo Shirt
ACWM Hiking Stick Medallion
ACWM Historic Tredegar Pocket Watch
Historic Tredegar Ironworks Souvenir Coin
ACWM Historic Tredegar Flask (8oz)
Tredegar Ironworks “Heavy Metal” tee shirt
ACWM Tredegar Wine Stopper
Tredegar Iron Works: Richmond’s Foundry On The James
Our permanent, core exhibit, A People’s Contest: Struggles for Nation and Freedom in Civil War America, features hundreds of original artifacts, dynamic theater experiences and compelling imagery. Visitors will be able to explore, understand and feel the dramatic story of the American Civil War and its legacies.
Organized chronologically as well as by topic, each gallery within the exhibit explores an aspect of the War that occurred during the 1850’s and 1860’s. Political developments are interwoven with civilian experiences and military events, providing multiple perspectives in a multifaceted manner. Technology is used selectively to impact the visitors’ experience and encourage their engagement with artifacts and images.
Robins Theater & Original Film:
“A People’s Contest: America’s Civil War & Emancipation“
This film was developed to inspire an understanding of the motivational causes, course, and consequences of the War, and compliments the ACWM flagship exhibit, A People’s Contest: Struggles for Nation & Freedom in Civil War America. With an original script and musical score, the film reflects themes of the Museum’s flagship exhibit by presenting distinctive and unexpected elements.
The immersive short-film A People’s Contest: America’s Civil War & Emancipation is an indispensable part of the visitor experience designed to inspire an understanding of the motivational causes, course, and consequences of the American Civil War.
Beyond Valor is a result of a collaboration with the Cameron Art Museum (CAM) Boundless art installation and the call for descendants of the 1st, 5th, 10th, 27th, and 37th USCT who fought in the Battle of Forks Road in February of 1865, where the CAM stands today. At this intersection of art and history, our museums aim to highlight stories that embody the bravery and agency of the United States Colored Troops.
The artifacts featured in Beyond Valor have never been on display, and are either directly connected to the regiments involved in the Battle of Forks Road or are items that were typically used by USCT soldiers. Objects directly associated with USCT soldiers are exceedingly rare.
Using poems, songs, cartoons, newspaper clippings, and more, visitors will explore how Americans assigned cultural meaning to money and how doing so helped them interpret politics, patriotism, and race. This temporary exhibit tells the story of how the United States’ decision on how to pay off the Civil War transformed the relationship between the government, the economy, banks, and citizens.
Southern Ambitions explores the Confederate States’ aspiration to become global players on their own terms. With the fifth-largest economy in the world prior to the Civil War, the Confederacy sought total independence. Their goal was prominence in economic, technological, and diplomatic partnerships among the leading western nations. At the heart of their vision lay plans for the growth and expansion of slavery. But what happened when Western nations rejected the Confederacy’s hopes?
Southern Ambitions is presented in both English and Spanish.
What happens when wars come home to Americans? From the moment the new Confederate States moved their capital to Richmond, Virginia in late May 1861, capturing the city became a primary objective of United States armies. Richmond was the industrial and political hub of a new nation, the destination for conscripted and impressed soldiers, white and Black, and a place where wounded and sick men either recovered or died. In these ways, Richmond is unique in American history.