Civil War 150th: Confederates come to Richmond

Civil War 150th: Confederates come to Richmond

Richmond before the Civil War was important - symbolically for its Revolutionary history, politically as Virginia's capital, materially as a manufacturing center and wrenchingly for its slave market.

But after Richmond became the capital of the breakaway Confederate States of America, the city became the single most important strategic location on the continent.

From a Southern perspective, Richmond was a magnet for Confederate politicians, bureaucrats, office-seekers, lobbyists, businessmen, refugees and soldiers. From a Northern perspective, "on to Richmond" signaled the path to victory.

Ruins of City of Richmond, Virginia at End of US Civil War




Ruins of City of Richmond, Virginia at End of US Civil War


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If there's a parallel to the impact of moving the capital to Richmond in the first months of the Civil War, it's hard to find. Mike Gorman, a ranger at Richmond National Battlefield Park and creator of a Richmond Civil War website, has considered the possibilities.

The influx of people might be like the Olympics, except those visitors are gone in a few weeks. The flow of refugees might be like recent conflicts in Africa, except the earliest Civil War refugees were often wealthy people who moved to secure their property (especially their human property) rather than the downtrodden escaping oppression. The military buildup might have been similar to American troops flooding England in World War II, except Allied forces were more widely dispersed.

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