Richmond is unique.
In conjunction with the American Civil War Museum’s “Richmonders at War” exhibit, currently on view at the Historic Tredegar site, we invite you to explore the places important to people living in the capital city during the American Civil War.
Libby Prison – E Cary St & S 20th St
Lewis Libby, a prominent Richmond tobacco merchant, leased his warehouse to the Confederate government for use as a prison. Outside of Andersonville in Georgia, Libby Prison was the most famous Confederate prison. It continued to be used as a warehouse after the war before being dismantled for exhibition at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The Site in Shockoe Bottom is near numerous restaurants and a variety of other museums and historic sites.
White House of the Confederacy – 1201 E Clay St
Built in 1818, this National Historic Landmark served as the White House of the Confederacy during the war. Formerly the posh home of industrialist William Crenshaw and now a historic house museum, guided tours of the restored house explore the lives of the people who lived and worked there. After the war, the house first served as the headquarters for the United States military in Virginia, and then a public school before it became the first home of the Confederate Museum in 1894. It is still operated by the American Civil War Museum as a historic house museum.
Oregon Hill Parkway River Overlook
A working-class neighborhood prior to the Civil War, Oregon Hill residents labored at Tredegar Iron Works and other riverside industries. Here, disgruntled workers organized a protest against high prices and scarce food before marching to Capitol Square and the business district. Still a mostly residential area with a few restaurants, you can visit and view the James River from the Oregon Hill overlook.
Mechanic’s Institute – 901 Bank St
The Mechanic’s Institute served as an adult educational institution for workingmen. The Virginia secession convention met here in the shadow of the Capitol building and afterward, the Confederate War and Navy Departments occupied the space.
The building burned in the evacuation fire. In the nearby Federal building on Bank Street is the antebellum U.S. Customs House that also served as Confederate War Department offices. This downtown area still houses government offices, but you can find other historic locations like St. Paul’s church.
Fort Harrison anchored the Confederate outer defenses guarding the eastern approach to Richmond. The United States Army attacked and captured it on September 29, 1864, reversed its front and renamed it Fort Burnham.
Today Fort Harrison/Burnham is a National Park Service site and a good location to explore some of the lesser-known battles around Richmond.
Camp Lee – 2500 W Broad St
On the western edge of Richmond in 1860, this location had been the state fairground before being repurposed by the Confederate States as a training camp, a hospital, and other military logistical services. The hospital here had more beds than Chimborazo, though it treated fewer patients.
Today, the location sits is occupied by the Science Museum of Virginia, the Washington Commanders training camp, and the growing Scott’s Addition commercial district.
Oakwood Cemetery – 1620 Oakwood Ave
A public cemetery prior to the Civil War, Oakwood received the remains of about 17,000 Confederate soldiers, marked today by a series of memorials. While visiting the lesser-known of Richmond’s wartime cemeteries, visit the historic African American burying grounds at Evergreen and East End on the next hill over.
Capitol Square – 1000 Bank St
The center of political life in Confederate Richmond, Capitol Square hosted the governor’s mansion, the George Washington statue, and the capitol building where both the Virginia legislature and the Confederate Congress met. The Richmond bread rioters also gathered here first before heading south toward the business district. Today it is a showcase of Virginia history with numerous statues from Edgar Allan Poe to Barbara Johns.
Burned District – 909 E Main St
The fire set by evacuating Confederates burned out most of Richmond’s business district. The city quickly recovered, and the first chartered national bank opened here in August 1865. It has remained the central business district ever since.
Lumpkin’s Slave Jail – 1605 E Broad St
Richmond was the heart of the domestic slave trade prior to the war, and the massive slave trade district in Shockoe Bottom continued to operate during the war years. Robert Lumpkin’s jail sat in the middle of this activity and is presently an archaeological site that is near the old African Burying ground.
Shockoe Slip – 1301 E Cary St
What became known as the Richmond Bread Riot began in Oregon Hill and moved to the Capitol grounds before protestors went to the central business district and began smashing windows and taking food near this intersection. Shockoe Slip remains a vibrant location for food, entertainment, and business.
Chimborazo Confederate Hospital &
National Park Historic Site
Spread over the plateau atop Chimborazo hill, the hospital here could serve 3,000 patients at one time. After the war, the location served as a Freedmen’s camp, housing hundreds of recently enslaved people. Chimborazo today is in the middle of the historic Church Hill neighborhood and is a city park with panoramic views as well as a small National Park Service medical museum.