United States


Fort Ward Museum And Historic Site

The Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site interprets American history of the 1860-1870 period, focusing on the Civil War defenses of Washington, D.C., Fort Ward as a military site, wartime Alexandria, and the experiences of Alexandrians during the Union occupation of the City. As an integral part of its mission, the Museum collects, preserves and interprets historic artifacts relating to the American Civil War and explains the significance of artifacts in the context of exhibitions and study collections. The staff adheres to the professional Code of Ethics developed by the Office of Historic Alexandria, and employs standards established by the American Association of Museums for accredited institutions in the registration, storage, care and exhibition of artifacts in its custody.

To fulfill its mission to the public, the Museum distributes an interactive classroom learning kit and other age-appropriate programs which meet or complement the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning; offers lectures, bus tours and walking tours of Fort Ward that provide adult audiences with opportunities for continued learning; mounts special exhibitions and plans living history programs that offer activities for the whole family; maintains a web site that provides in-depth educational information to the Internet community; preserves and interprets the extant and restored portions of the historic fort through informative signage, brochures maps and tours; offers site brochures in French, Spanish and German; provides brochures in braille and large print for the sight impaired visitor and a closed-captioned video for the hearing impaired visitor to comply with... [ Read all ]

Permanent Collection


The Museum building is patterned after a Union army headquarters building and houses a research library and a broad collection of Civil War artifacts including objects related to Alexandria's Civil War history. The building's architecture is that of a typical 19th-century board and batten style designed for a military headquarters. No documentation has been found to indicate that such a building stood at Fort Ward; however, structures of this type were commonly used at other forts in the Defenses of Washington.

Officers' Hut

Designed in the same board and batten style as the Museum building, the Officers' Hut can be documented as having stood at Fort Ward. In 1863, a quarters of this kind was assigned to Captain Rockwood of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery. Typically, two huts were constructed side by side to share a common chimney.

The typical Union foot-soldier carried with him all of the equipment necessary to fight and survive. In this exhibit, objects from the Museum’s permanent collection illustrate the daily life of the typical Union soldier. Among the equipment displayed are examples of Springfield and Enfield rifle-muskets, cartridge and cap boxes, a knapsack, mess utensils, and a variety of personal objects used for leisure-time activities. Of special interest is a protective vest called body armor and a denim shell jacket with Federal eagle buttons which is recorded as having been worn by a black soldier in the U.S. Army.


Thematic exhibitions explore different facets of Civil War military and civilian life, especially those related to the Defenses of Washington, the life of the Union soldier and local history focusing on wartime Alexandria. A mural depicting the location of the forts around Washington and an overview exhibit on Fort Ward's history and restoration, which includes a model of the stronghold as it once looked, introduce visitors to the site. A 12-minute video entitled Fort Ward and the Defenses of Washington: Silent Guardians of the Capital City may be viewed on the main exhibit floor. The video features period photographs and illustrations, footage of the historic fort and commentary by the authors of Mr. Lincoln's Forts: A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington. One major special exhibition opens annually, although objects are sometimes rotated in smaller or continuing displays


FREE. Donations welcome.

Opening hours

April-October: Tuesday to Saturday: 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday: Noon to 5 pm
Monday: Closed
November-March: Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday: Noon to 5 pm
Monday: Closed
Closed: New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas.
(Please call for changes regarding weather related conditions.)

Getting there

Fort Ward Museum is located on West Braddock Road between King Street (Route 7) and North Van Dorn Street in Alexandria, Virginia, approximately six miles south of Washington, D.C. The Museum and Historic Site are surrounded by a park.

From Old Town Alexandria
Follow King Street west to T.C. Williams High School, turn right on Kenwood Avenue. Turn left on West Braddock Road, and proceed about a mile. The Museum entrance is on the right.

From I-395 (north or south)
Take Seminary Road East exit and at the fifth traffic light (at Alexandria Hospital) turn left onto North Howard Street. Follow North Howard to its intersection with West Braddock Road and turn right. The Museum entrance is on the left.

From Washington, D.C. and National Airport
Follow road signs to I-395 South. Use I-395 directions to Museum. OR - Take the Metro from National Airport Metro station, and follow directions on how to reach Fort Ward by Metro.

From I-95/I-495 (Capital Beltway)
Follow road signs to I-395 North. Use I-395 directions to Museum.

From Dulles Airport
Take Dulles Access Road East to I-495 North (Capital Beltway). Follow road signs to I-395 North. Use I-395 directions to Museum.

By Metro Rail, then Bus
Take the Yellow or Blue Line to King Street Station. The AT5 DASH bus to Landmark stops in front of Fort Ward. Call (703) 370-DASH for bus schedules and information.

By Amtrak or Virginia Railway Express
Walk across the the street from the Alexandria Union Station to the King Street Station to catch DASH bus. See above.


Free parking for cars and buses.+ [ Read all ]


Museum exhibit areas are wheel-chair accessible. Handicapped parking is available in the Museum lot. For visitors who are unable to tour the historic fort, an interpretive video, "Fort Ward and the Defenses of Washington, DC: Silent Guardians of the Capital City" is shown inside the Museum.

Museum internal and external photos (1)

Click on the images to enlarge