Civil War history of Alexandria, Va. house uncovered
The crowd that gathered for a photographer in front of an Alexandria house as the Civil War ended was unusual for the times. Standing together were men and women, black and white, civilian and military. Children are lined up in front of the adults.Their outfits ranged from very casual to their very best.
The only information about the photo posted on the National Archives website was the address of the house, but that was enough for architectural historian Tim Dennee to research the building that is still standing and the photo. Dennee discovered the house had been used during the war as a barracks for Union soldiers and later as housing for escaped slaves. It had belonged to Confederate sympathizers who fled Alexandria as the war began.
The building was later converted into a refugee center by two women in the group photo -- well-known abolitionists, Julia Wilbur and former slave and author Harriet Jacobs. Jacobs and Wilbur, a New York Quaker who moved to Alexandria during the war, moved into the house in February, 1863 where they dispensed free food and clothing and provided schooling for black children. They also cared for wounded soldiers.
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