Civil War Walking Tour of Alexandria: Stories of an Occupied City

Civil War Walking Tour of Alexandria: Stories of an Occupied City


One hundred and fifty eight years ago, on May 23 1861, Virginia voters chose to secede from the United States and in the early morning hours of the 24th, thousands of Union troops traveled by boat and across the bridges from Washington City to occupy Alexandria and the surrounding area. On this walking tour of Old Town Alexandria, we will visit and talk about sites connected to the Civil War era.

The Union army’s four long years of encampment made Alexandria the longest occupied city over the course of the war. The city was transformed into a massive logistics hub and hospital center in support of Union war efforts and became a destination for thousands of those escaping slavery. Four years of occupation brought many changes, including suffering and deprivation for some and opportunity and liberation for others. We’ll visit sites from the Civil War era and talk about some of the events and personalities that were a part of the chaotic war years including:

Locations of some of the thirty hospitals established by the Union Army and some of those who visited and worked in them

The first blood shed in Virginia at the outbreak of the war

The minister who was arrested for the way he conducted his Sunday service

The loyalty oath and how it divided the community

Men, women and children who flooded into the city to escape slavery during the war and two women, a New York school teacher and an author from North Carolina who worked together to help with the refugee crisis.

A local newspaper that did its best under difficult circumstances to keep publishing during the occupation

This is a walking tour that will last approximately two hours. We will meet near the intersection of King and Royal Streets at Market Square in Alexandria and end the tour nearby the starting location. This tour will be all outdoors, we will not be going inside any of the buildings, but will be viewing some of the most historic sites in Old Town Alexandria. There is parking on the streets, and if coming by Metro, get off at the King Street – Old Town Station then take the free King Street Trolley about 15 blocks to Market Square.


The cost for the tour is $10 payable in cash at the start.

My name is Harry I am a longtime resident of Northern Virginia and have created and led a number of specialized tours of Arlington National Cemetery for the last several years.