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Rare Historic Photos of Alexandria, Virginia, looked in the 1860s

Alexandria, Virginia, is a fascinating city with a history dating back to 1749, and many historic structures remain intact today. The Alexandria area was once a tobacco trading post, the busiest port in the country, a part of the District of Columbia that was home to both the largest slave-trading firm in the country, as well as a large free-black community, a Civil War supply center for Union troops, and a suburb for Federal workers with street cars. After Virginia seceded from the Union in the spring of 1861, federal troops arrived in Alexandria to take control. Alexandria became a logistical supply center for the federal army after Union forces arrived on May 24, 1861. Supply and troops were transported to Alexandria via the port and railroad and then dispersed. Trains brought injured soldiers back to the town, crowding hospitals and temporary medical facilities. In the aftermath of the confiscation, many large buildings were converted into hospitals and other official functions, as well as many new warehouses along the waterfront. Several forts were built in Alexandria to defend the City of Washington during this period.

The city served as the capital of the Restored Government of Virginia during the Civil War, representing seven Virginia counties still under federal control. The economy of Alexandria was in chaos at the end of the Civil War. However, the city itself was spared the destruction experienced by Richmond and Fredericksburg in Virginia. Before the Civil War, Alexandria was a major slave-trading center but had several free black communities. African American life flourished with the establishment of churches, social and fraternal organizations, and businesses. Early Alexandria African Americans were skilled artisans. During the Civil War, African American refugees flooded into Union-controlled areas, including Alexandria and Washington. Some freedmen found work and served in the Union army, but others arrived destitute, malnourished, and in poor health. Freed people died in the area, so a pro-Confederate owner was forced to give up the land for use as a cemetery after hundreds perished. Following the closure of the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1868, the property was returned to its original owners. Eventually, after the grave markers rotted and ownership changed several times, the property was redeveloped for commercial purposes. The cemetery buried about 1800 contrabands and freedmen during its five-year operation.

#1 Queen Street warehouse, Alexandria, 1860

Queen Street warehouse, Alexandria, 1860

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#2 Alexandria, Va. Magazine in Battery Rodgers, Alexandria, 1860

Alexandria, Va. Magazine in Battery Rodgers, Alexandria, 1860

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#3 Mansion House Hospital, Mansion House Hotel before and after the Civil War, Alexandria, Virginia, 1861

Mansion House Hospital, Mansion House Hotel before and after the Civil War, Alexandria, Virginia, 1861

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#4 Fifteen-inch gun in Battery Rodgers on the Potomac, 1861

Fifteen-inch gun in Battery Rodgers on the Potomac, 1861

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#5 The Marshall House, Alexandria, 1861

The Marshall House, Alexandria, 1861

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#6 An aerial view of the U.S. Military Railroad engine barn in Alexandria, Virginia, 1862

An aerial view of the U.S. Military Railroad engine barn in Alexandria, Virginia, 1862

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#7 Gen. Slough’s headquarters, St. Asaph Street, Alexandria. Post office and veteran’s reserve headquarters in middle distance, 1862

Gen. Slough's headquarters, St. Asaph Street, Alexandria. Post office and veteran's reserve headquarters in middle distance, 1862

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#8 Government coal wharf, Alexandria, 1863

Government coal wharf, Alexandria, 1863

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#9 Headquarters Capt. J.G.C. Lee, A.Q.M, Alexandria, 1863

Headquarters Capt. J.G.C. Lee, A.Q.M, Alexandria, 1863

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#10 Soldiers’ Cemetery, Alexandria, 1862

Soldiers' Cemetery, Alexandria, 1862

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#11 Government Bakery, Alexandria, 1863

Government Bakery, Alexandria, 1863

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#12 Bird’s-eye view of Sickel Hospital, Alexandria, 1862

Bird's-eye view of Sickel Hospital, Alexandria, 1862

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#13 Sailors on Russian frigate “Osliaba,” harbor of Alexandria, 1862

Sailors on Russian frigate "Osliaba," harbor of Alexandria, 1862

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#14 Federal Navy, and seaborne expeditions against the Atlantic Coast of the Confederacy — the Federal Navy, 1864

Federal Navy, and seaborne expeditions against the Atlantic Coast of the Confederacy -- the Federal Navy, 1864

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#15 Gen. S. P. Heintzelman and group, convalescent camp, near Alexandria, 1864

Gen. S. P. Heintzelman and group, convalescent camp, near Alexandria, 1864

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#16 Camp of 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

Camp of 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

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#17 Quartermaster’s corrall (i.e. corral), near Alexandria, 1864

Quartermaster's corrall (i.e. corral), near Alexandria, 1864

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#18 Convalescent camp, near Alexandria, 1861

Convalescent camp, near Alexandria, 1861

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#19 Slough Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, 1864

Slough Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, 1864

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#20 Convalescent camp, near Alexandria, 1863

Convalescent camp, near Alexandria, 1863

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#21 Convalescent camp near Alexandria, 1863

Convalescent camp near Alexandria, 1863

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#22 Headquarters of convalescent camp, near Alexandria, 1860s

Headquarters of convalescent camp, near Alexandria, 1860s

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#23 U.S. frigate Pensacola off Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s

U.S. frigate Pensacola off Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s

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#24 Interior view of a slave pen, showing the doors of cells where the slaves were held before being sold. Building address: 1315 Duke Street, Alexandria, 1862

Interior view of a slave pen, showing the doors of cells where the slaves were held before being sold. Building address: 1315 Duke Street, Alexandria, 1862

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#25 Fort Ellsworth, Alexandria, 1864

Fort Ellsworth, Alexandria, 1864

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#26 Soldier’s Cemetery, Alexandria, 1864

Soldier's Cemetery, Alexandria, 1864

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#27 Hunting Creek Bridge, near Alexandria, 1864

Hunting Creek Bridge, near Alexandria, 1864

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#28 Camp of 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

Camp of 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

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#29 Camp of 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

Camp of 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

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#30 Marshall House, Alexandria. Scene of death of Col. Ellsworth, 1864

Marshall House, Alexandria. Scene of death of Col. Ellsworth, 1864

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#31 Private F. E. Brownell, 11th New York Infantry, “Ellsworth’s Avenger”, 1860s

Private F. E. Brownell, 11th New York Infantry, "Ellsworth's Avenger", 1860s

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#32 Christ’s Church, Alexandria, 1860s

Christ's Church, Alexandria, 1860s

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#33 Mansion House, Alexandria, 1860s

Mansion House, Alexandria, 1860s

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#34 Practice Chapel Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, 1864

Practice Chapel Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, 1864

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#35 Quartermaster’s Wharf, Alexandria, 1865

Quartermaster's Wharf, Alexandria, 1865

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#36 A group of people in front of the Marshall House at the corner of King and St. Asaph Streets, Alexandria, 1863

A group of people in front of the Marshall House at the corner of King and St. Asaph Streets, Alexandria, 1863

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#37 Fairfax Seminary, near Alexandria, 1860s

Fairfax Seminary, near Alexandria, 1860s

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#38 Christ’s Church, Alexandria, 1860s

Christ's Church, Alexandria, 1860s

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#39 Slave pen, at 1315 Duke St., Alexandria, 1860s

Slave pen, at 1315 Duke St., Alexandria, 1860s

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#40 Fairfax Seminary, near Alexandria, 1864

Fairfax Seminary, near Alexandria, 1864

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#41 Fairfax Seminary, near Alexandria, 1864

Fairfax Seminary, near Alexandria, 1864

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#42 Alexandria, Va, 1860s

Alexandria, Va, 1860s

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#43 Building stockade, Alexandria, 1864

Building stockade, Alexandria, 1864

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#44 Quartermaster’s Wharf, Alexandria, 1860s

Quartermaster's Wharf, Alexandria, 1860s

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#45 Freedman’s Barracks, Alexandria, 1860s

Freedman's Barracks, Alexandria, 1860s

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#46 Battery Rodgers, Potomac River, near Alexandria, 1860s

Battery Rodgers, Potomac River, near Alexandria, 1860s

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#47 Battery Rodgers, Potomac River, near Alexandria, 1860s

Battery Rodgers, Potomac River, near Alexandria, 1860s

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#48 Fort Ellsworth, near Alexandria, 1860s

Fort Ellsworth, near Alexandria, 1860s

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#49 Battery Rodgers, (interior), vicinity, Alexandria, 1860s

Battery Rodgers, (interior), vicinity, Alexandria, 1860s

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#50 Building stockade, Alexandria, 1860s

Building stockade, Alexandria, 1860s

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#51 Camp of the 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

Camp of the 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

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#52 Camp of 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

Camp of 44th New York Infantry near Alexandria, 1864

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#53 Exterior of the Price, Birch & Co. slave pen, Alexandria, 1865

Exterior of the Price, Birch & Co. slave pen, Alexandria, 1865

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#54 Union soldiers on the steps of Lyceum Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, 1865

Union soldiers on the steps of Lyceum Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, 1865

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#55 Wolfe Street Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, 1865

Wolfe Street Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, 1865

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#56 Mansion House Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, 1865

Mansion House Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, 1865

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#57 Christ Church Alexandria, Virginia, 1861

Christ Church Alexandria, Virginia, 1861

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#58 Wolfe Street Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, with Tuscan Villa Hospital in the distance, 1862

Wolfe Street Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia, with Tuscan Villa Hospital in the distance, 1862

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#59 Transportation on the Potomac. Cars loaded at Alexandria can be carried on barges or arks to Aquia Creek, and sent to stations where the Army of the Potomac is supplied, 1862

Transportation on the Potomac. Cars loaded at Alexandria can be carried on barges or arks to Aquia Creek, and sent to stations where the Army of the Potomac is supplied, 1862

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#60 Marshall House, Alexandria, 1866

Marshall House, Alexandria, 1866

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#61 An exterior view of Marshall House and adjoining buildings, 1862

An exterior view of Marshall House and adjoining buildings, 1862

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#62 A woman with two Union soldiers in front of the seminary which was headquarters for the Army of the Potomac, 1862

A woman with two Union soldiers in front of the seminary which was headquarters for the Army of the Potomac, 1862

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#63 Officers of 14th U.S. Infantry, March, 1862

Officers of 14th U.S. Infantry, March, 1862

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#64 African-American adults and children reading books while lined up in front of a barracks-like building. The same building is shown in “Freedman’s Barracks, Alexandria, 1860s

African-American adults and children reading books while lined up in front of a barracks-like building. The same building is shown in "Freedman's Barracks, Alexandria, 1860s

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#65 Grace Church General Hospital, 207-209 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 1863

Grace Church General Hospital, 207-209 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 1863

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#66 Downtown Baptist Church Hospital, 212 South Washington Street, Alexandria, 1863

Downtown Baptist Church Hospital, 212 South Washington Street, Alexandria, 1863

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#67 Deck view of Russian frigate “Osliaba,” harbor of Alexandria, 1863

Deck view of Russian frigate "Osliaba," harbor of Alexandria, 1863

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#68 A Union army guard and other men in front of a building designated Price, Birch & Co., dealers in slaves, at 1315 Duke St., Alexandria, 1865

A Union army guard and other men in front of a building designated Price, Birch & Co., dealers in slaves, at 1315 Duke St., Alexandria, 1865

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#69 Fort Ellsworth, near Alexandria, Va., interior view, April 3, 1864

Fort Ellsworth, near Alexandria, Va., interior view, April 3, 1864

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#70 Battery Rodgers, Alexandria, 1864

Battery Rodgers, Alexandria, 1864

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#71 A ward in hospital at convalescent camp near Alexandria, 1866

A ward in hospital at convalescent camp near Alexandria, 1866

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#72 Fifteen inch gun at Battery Rodgers, Alexandria, 1864

Fifteen inch gun at Battery Rodgers, Alexandria, 1864

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#73 Tents used as barracks after the wood-frame barracks at Camp Slough were converted to medical buildings at Slough Hospital, 1864

Tents used as barracks after the wood-frame barracks at Camp Slough were converted to medical buildings at Slough Hospital, 1864

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#74 Alexandria from Pioneer Mill, looking north-west, 1865

Alexandria from Pioneer Mill, looking north-west, 1865

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#75 Sickel Hospital, looking toward Fairfax Seminary, January 5, 1865

Sickel Hospital, looking toward Fairfax Seminary, January 5, 1865

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#76 New Bridge over Potomac River. On the Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown Railroad, 1864

New Bridge over Potomac River. On the Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown Railroad, 1864

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#77 The Aqueduct Bridge., Jarvis, J. F. (John F.), 1865

The Aqueduct Bridge., Jarvis, J. F. (John F.), 1865

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#78 View of Alexandria Bay, 1865

View of Alexandria Bay, 1865

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#79 View near train depot showing a locomotive on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, Culpeper Court House, VA, 1862.

View near train depot showing a locomotive on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, Culpeper Court House, VA, 1862.

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#80 US military railroad boxcars travel along the Orange & Alexandria railroad line, Confederate fortifications are visible on the right, 1862.

US military railroad boxcars travel along the Orange & Alexandria railroad line, Confederate fortifications are visible on the right, 1862.

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#81 Soldiers stand beside damaged rolling stock of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1862

Soldiers stand beside damaged rolling stock of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1862

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#82 View of the tracks of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, destroyed by the Confederates between Bristow Station and the Rappahannock, 1862.

View of the tracks of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, destroyed by the Confederates between Bristow Station and the Rappahannock, 1862.

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#83 Court House, Va. Freight train on Orange and Alexandria Railroad, Alexandria, 1862

Court House, Va. Freight train on Orange and Alexandria Railroad, Alexandria, 1862

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#84 Pope’s Head, near burnt bridge, Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1863

Pope's Head, near burnt bridge, Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1863

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#85 New bridge over Potomac River on the Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown Railroad. Total length 5,104 feet, 1863

New bridge over Potomac River on the Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown Railroad. Total length 5,104 feet, 1863

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#86 New bridge over Potomac River on the Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown Railroad, 1863

New bridge over Potomac River on the Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown Railroad, 1863

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#87 Engine W. H. Whiton, and President’s car, Alexandria, January,1865

Engine W. H. Whiton, and President's car, Alexandria, January,1865

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#88 Excavating for “Y” at Devereux Station, Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1863

Excavating for "Y" at Devereux Station, Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1863

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#89 Engine W. H. Whiton, and President’s car, Alexandria, 1865

Engine W. H. Whiton, and President's car, Alexandria, 1865

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#90 Hay Wharf, Alexandria, 1863

Hay Wharf, Alexandria, 1863

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#91 Woodchoppers’ Huts in a Virginia Forest. On the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. Wood Supplied U.S.M.R. Railroads under Supervision of Major Brayton, June 1863.

Woodchoppers' Huts in a Virginia Forest. On the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. Wood Supplied U.S.M.R. Railroads under Supervision of Major Brayton, June 1863.

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#92 Confederate Trestle Work on Alexandria Railroad, 1861

Confederate Trestle Work on Alexandria Railroad, 1861

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#93 Orange and Alexandria Railroad Bridge, near Union Mills, Virginia, 1863

Orange and Alexandria Railroad Bridge, near Union Mills, Virginia, 1863

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#94 Bull Run Orange And Alexandria RR Near Union Mills, 1865

Bull Run Orange And Alexandria RR Near Union Mills, 1865

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#95 Steam locomotive ‘Fire Fly’, used by Union troops, on a narrow field bridge of the Orange and Alexandria US Military Railroad, 1865

Steam locomotive 'Fire Fly', used by Union troops, on a narrow field bridge of the Orange and Alexandria US Military Railroad, 1865

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#96 During the fighting on the Red River, Louisiana, a Union fleet of 33 vessels was trapped at Alexandria by low water, 1860s

During the fighting on the Red River, Louisiana, a Union fleet of 33 vessels was trapped at Alexandria by low water, 1860s

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#97 Abatis surrounds the perimeter of Fort Lyon, Virginia, near where Union gunners pose with their cannons, 1860s

Abatis surrounds the perimeter of Fort Lyon, Virginia, near where Union gunners pose with their cannons, 1860s

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#98 Rows of white grave markers fill a large Civil War cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s

Rows of white grave markers fill a large Civil War cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s

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#99 A number of Union warships and transports were trapped by shallow water near Alexandria, 1864

A number of Union warships and transports were trapped by shallow water near Alexandria, 1864

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#100 During the American Civil War, Georgetown, D.C., served as an auxiliary port to the larger facilities at Alexandria, Virginia.

During the American Civil War, Georgetown, D.C., served as an auxiliary port to the larger facilities at Alexandria, Virginia.

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#101 Guard boat of the Port of Alexandria, VA, 1860s

Guard boat of the Port of Alexandria, VA, 1860s

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#102 The slave pen and auction house at Alexandria, Virginia, in 1863.

The slave pen and auction house at Alexandria, Virginia, in 1863.

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#103 The Field Hospital for the Second Army Corps, established at Brandy Station, VA, February 1864.

The Field Hospital for the Second Army Corps, established at Brandy Station, VA, February 1864.

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#104 Rails of the Manassas Gap Railroad, Alexandria, 1863

Rails of the Manassas Gap Railroad, Alexandria, 1863

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#105 Excavating for “Y” at Devereaux Station, Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1863.

Excavating for "Y" at Devereaux Station, Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1863.

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#106 Bull Run. Orange and Alexandria R.R. near Union Mills, 1861

Bull Run. Orange and Alexandria R.R. near Union Mills, 1861

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#107 A winter view of Alexandria, Virginia, with Washington visible across the Potomac River, 1864

A winter view of Alexandria, Virginia, with Washington visible across the Potomac River, 1864

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#108 Union forces occupied Alexandria, 1864

Union forces occupied Alexandria, 1864

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#109 Railroad Repair At Catlett’S Station, 1860s

Railroad Repair At Catlett'S Station, 1860s

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#110 Government hay barns, Alexandria, Va., July, 1863

Government hay barns, Alexandria, Va., July, 1863

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#111 Engine “E.M. Stanton,” Alexandria, July 1864

Engine "E.M. Stanton," Alexandria, July 1864

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#112 View on Pope’s Head, near burnt bridge, Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1860

View on Pope's Head, near burnt bridge, Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1860

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#113 Slave pen, Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s

Slave pen, Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s

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#114 The Marshall house, King & Pitt Streets, Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s

The Marshall house, King & Pitt Streets, Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s

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#115 President’s rail car at the Alexandria station. Photograph probably taken in Jan. The car was later used as Lincoln’s funeral car, 1863

President's rail car at the Alexandria station. Photograph probably taken in Jan. The car was later used as Lincoln's funeral car, 1863

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#116 Officers of First District volunteers, City Hotel, Alexandria, 1863

Officers of First District volunteers, City Hotel, Alexandria, 1863

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#117 Locomotive moving away from the roundhouse at the Orange & Alexandria railroad yard in Alexandria, Virginia, 1863

Locomotive moving away from the roundhouse at the Orange & Alexandria railroad yard in Alexandria, Virginia, 1863

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#118 Marshall house, Alexandria, Virginia, 1862

Marshall house, Alexandria, Virginia, 1862

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#119 Shed at carpenter shop at Alexandria, 1863

Shed at carpenter shop at Alexandria, 1863

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#120 Track near the Potomac River, in Alexandria, 1863

Track near the Potomac River, in Alexandria, 1863

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#121 Bird’s eye view of machine shops, with east yard of Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1863

Bird's eye view of machine shops, with east yard of Orange & Alexandria Railroad, 1863

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#122 Ornately decorated locomotive J.H. Devereux, of the United States Military Railroad with two crew members on board outside the roundhouse at the Alexandria station, 1863

Ornately decorated locomotive J.H. Devereux, of the United States Military Railroad with two crew members on board outside the roundhouse at the Alexandria station, 1863

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#123 Bridge on Orange & Alexandria [Virginia] Railroad, as repaired by army engineers under Colonel Herman Haupt, 1863

Bridge on Orange & Alexandria [Virginia] Railroad, as repaired by army engineers under Colonel Herman Haupt, 1863

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#124 A construction corps loads a bridge to test its strength, in the third of a series of experiments with board trusses, Virginia, 1863.

A construction corps loads a bridge to test its strength, in the third of a series of experiments with board trusses, Virginia, 1863.

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#125 The ‘Firefly’ railroad engine crossing a river on a trestle, a narrow field bridge of the Orange and Alexandria US Military Railroad, 1863

The 'Firefly' railroad engine crossing a river on a trestle, a narrow field bridge of the Orange and Alexandria US Military Railroad, 1863

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#126 Slave pen, Alexandria, 1863

Slave pen, Alexandria, 1863

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#127 U.S. Fire Department, Alexandria, Va., 1863

U.S. Fire Department, Alexandria, Va., 1863

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#128 Wreck on the track, ready for transportation to Alexandria, 1863

Wreck on the track, ready for transportation to Alexandria, 1863

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#129 Wharf at Alexandria, Va., used by U.S. Military Railroad Department, 1863

Wharf at Alexandria, Va., used by U.S. Military Railroad Department, 1863

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#130 Wharf in Alexandria, Virginia from Pioneer Mill, 1863

Wharf in Alexandria, Virginia from Pioneer Mill, 1863

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#131 U.S. Provost Marshal ‘s Office at Alexandria, 1862

U.S. Provost Marshal 's Office at Alexandria, 1862

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#132 Marshall House, Alexandria, Virginia, 1861

Marshall House, Alexandria, Virginia, 1861

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