Historic America

Civil War History Tour of Old Town, Alexandria

Ed Moser led us on a trip into Alexandria’s complicated and exciting past.

Sunday night, a small group of history enthusiasts gathered at the Lyceum in downtown Alexandria, Virginia for a tour of that storied city’s Civil War sites. It began in the shadow of Alexandria’s Appomattox statue, a statue which epitomizes the city’s complicated place in America’s bloodiest conflict.

As a thriving trade and manufacturing city at Washington, DC’s doorstep, Alexandria was a prized possession for both North and South. The Union controlled it for almost the entire war, but it teemed with Confederate sympathizers and spies. It was also the site of the first Union casualty of the Civil War.

Our tour guide, Ed Moser, an author and former writer for the Tonight Show and speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, highlighted many contradictions that characterized Alexandria’s role in the Civil War. This included the story of an enslaved woman who had a common law marriage with a Confederate officer. She escaped during the war and founded a school for other escaped slaves.

Old Town Alexandria teems with history, so there was no shortage of stories from the Civil War era and even earlier. The house pictured above was once owned by a wealthy secessionist who fled to Richmond during the war. Our tour guide couldn’t help commenting on a few Revolutionary War-era sites and ties to George and Martha Washington as well.

Overall, Ed Moser’s Civil War History Tour of Old Town, Alexandria was fun and informative, though a touch too long. Moser kept us walking at a brisk pace throughout the two-hour tour, with only a brief break to run to CVS and grab some water. Still, I’m satisfied everyone got more than their money’s worth. Moser shared a wealth of knowledge and trivia about the city and its role in the American Civil War.

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