An Interactive Walking Tour of Downtown Lynchburg In The Civil War
Begin At 901 Court Street.
Begin Tour
Start at 901 Court St.
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Old Court House, Lynchburg Museum

2008 OCH Nancy Marion Exterior_1   Constructed in 1855 in the Greek Revival style, Lynchburg’s second courthouse now holds the city’s museum. During the Civil War, it was used by the Confederate government for the Quarter- master’s Department, Soldiers’ Aid Society, and the Soldiers’ Library. During Reconstruction, the Old Court House was used as headquarters for Federal officers and as a Provost Marshall’s office. It also likely served as the capitol during the six days that the State Capital was Lynchburg.

Visit the Museum to view Civil War collections, including a rare Confederate First National flag, personal artifacts from General Jubal Early, and the presentation sword given to General John McCausland for his service in the Battle of Lynchburg.  Admission Free on First Friday 5 pm – 8pm. 

Walk across Court St.
1900.Monument.Ter.Court.st.Confederate.unveil.jml_colorpath_1

John W. Daniel addressed the crowd at the unveiling of the Confederate monument in 1900.

IMG_3127_1Standing guard over Monument Terrace is a monument to the Confederate soldier. Cast in bronze, the memorial was installed in 1900. The base contains a time capsule with items related to the Confederacy, including photographs of local Confederates, CSA currency, and hair from General Lee’s famous horse, Traveller. 

Walk up Court St.

8thStSteps_1This section of street, which is now wisely used for pedestrian stairs, was once a stone track up the hill. As Union forces approached the city in June of 1864 prior to the Battle of Lynchburg, arms and soldiers began to arrive to help defend the city. Lieutenant Carter Berkley, perhaps unwisely, pressed forward on the advice of his map of Lynchburg and chose what appeared to be a shorter route, up 8th Street, as opposed to the longer but less steep 5th Street.

Unfortunately, the steepness of 8th Street proved more than the exhausted horses and men pulling newly arrived guns and caissons up the hill could handle, and they became stalled. Luckily, as more reinforcements arrived, Confederate soldiers and fresher cavalry horses from General John Imboden’s command were able to pull the guns forward and ultimately to their use in the battle. 

Continue walking northwest up Court St.

23_Warwick_courtSt12_1Daniel.statue.close_1This home was built in 1826 and is the birthplace of John W. Daniel. Wounded and permanently disabled in the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, Daniel resigned his commission and returned to Lynchburg.

He later served as Congressman and Senator and is known as the Lame Lion of Lynchburg. He is memorialized by a statue on Park Avenue, created by Moses Ezekiel. Ezekiel was the first Jewish cadet to enter Virginia Military Institute and fought with the cadets at the Battle of New Market in 1864.  He later became one of the most famous sculptors of his era with over 200 works in America and Europe.

Continue to near Sixth St, down Court St.
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Court Street Baptist Church

The church was first organized in 1843 as the African Baptist Church of Lynchburg.  The church was active throughout the war, though in another building near this location.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, this structure was built in 1879-80.

Left, up Sixth St, then left, down Clay St.
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Latham’s Battery Gun House, Clay Street Reservoir & Holy Cross Church

Latham's Battery PlaqueThe bronze plaque on the wall of the Clay Street reservoir marks the site of the Gun House of Latham’s Battery, a volunteer artillery unit which was mustered in 1861 as part of the Army of Northern Virginia. Latham’s Battery served at the Battle of Gettysburg, among others. Dr. Henry Grey Latham, captain of the battery, is memorialized at his horse head hitching post, located on the corner of Clay and 6th Streets (about a block to the north). The base of the post describes Dr. Latham as, “Tender Poet, Notable Wit.”

49_CH.Holy.Cross.2.rc_1Holy Cross Church and the Clay Street Reservoir were both designed by the former Confederate officer and city engineer, Col. August Forsberg. The Swedish born colonel arrived in Lynchburg as so many other men did during the war: as a wounded soldier. Severely wounded in the hand at Winchester, Forsberg was sent to recover at the Ladies Relief Hospital. There, he was nursed back to health by the widowed Mary (Mollie) Morgan Otey. The two fell in love and were married in 1865. According to her family, Mary said: “After I saved his hand, I thought I should have it.”

Doug_Forsberg_Jacket_02_1Owned by the Lynchburg Museum is a woman’s jacket made in the style of a Confederate officer’s overcoat. Mary had this jacket made, and attached to it military braids and her husband’s colonel stars. This jacket was an act of rebellion, as Confederate soldiers were forbidden from wearing their “colors” during the period of Reconstruction. Mary and August remained in Lynchburg and he served as city engineer for many years. During this period, he designed both the church and the reservoir. He passed away in 1910, Mary in 1918.

Walk down Seventh St to Main St, Left
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Ladies Relief Hospital

IMG_0262During the war, Lynchburg was the second largest hospital center in the Confederacy. Military hospitals were located throughout what we now know as Downtown Lynchburg, often in renovated tobacco warehouses. More than 30,000 soldiers were treat- ed in Lynchburg. At one point following the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, the city saw more than 10,000 casualties arrive. While Confederate Army physicians were the official leaders of the hospitals, much of the daily work fell on the shoulders of African Americans, both free and enslaved, and, of course, women.

At the site of what is now the offices for the Academy of Fine Arts, the Ladies Relief Hospital was located. The hospital was operated entirely by women. It was founded by Lucy Mina Otey, a widow who lost three sons in the War. The Ladies Relief Society was originally started to make bandages and uniforms, but their roles quickly morphed into those of nurses and hospital matrons. However, the women were once rudely turned away from a post hospital. Lucy Mina Otey traveled to Richmond and petitioned CSA President Jefferson Davis to establish the independent Ladies Relief Hospital, which he did. While the worst casualties were generally sent to the Ladies’ Hospital, their mortality rate was the lowest in the city.

Return to Ninth St via Main St

06_Market_house_fb_sepia_1The intersection of Ninth and Main Streets was one of Lynchburg’s sites for the auction of enslaved African Americans. At the time, the city’s Market House—where local farmers would have sold and traded crops and livestock—stood in the middle of Ninth Street, in the block between Main Street and Church (toward Monument Terrace). Slaves were auctioned on a large boulder or block located in front of the Market House.

Martha Spence Edley, Former slave (1826-1920)

Continue down Ninth St, Corner of Commerce St

Between Commerce Street (then known as Lynch Street) and Jefferson Street is the section of Downtown Lynchburg which was once known as Buzzard’s Roost. Full of bars, bordellos and gambling houses, this section thrived during the war. Many of the “Ladies of the Night” were said to pass secrets and operate as spies. Often, the “sporting houses” were run by women, both white and free women of color. In 1860, one of the wealthiest women in Lynchburg was Jane Hawkins, a madam in Buzzard’s Roost. Her estate was estimated to be worth $5400 in 1860, around $150,000 by modern estimates. Another wealthy resident of the area was Elizabeth “Lizzie” Langley. Lizzie Langley operated a bordello throughout the War, a business which she had inherited from her mother, Agnes. The Langleys are interred in the Old City Cemetery, in one of the largest and most ornate burial plots. By 1900 expanding industries gradually pushed most of the sporting houses out of Buzzard and up to the red-light district on Fourth Street in Tinbridge Hill. Lynch Street was renamed “Commerce Street” in the 1890s to reflect its new residents. The last “dive” in Buzzard, located in the 1100 block of Jefferson Street, was closed in 1916.

Continue down Ninth St

canal book pictures, Canal from White Rock HillThe J. W. Wood Building is the largest and one of the best preserved of the pre–Civil War structures remaining in Lynchburg. The building was built between 1851 and 1853 as a warehouse. During the War, it likely served as a temporary hospital triage center given its close proximity to the railroad tracks. Today it houses Amazement Square, a vibrant children’s museum. Admission.

Continue down Ninth St
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James River and Kanawha Canal

Stonewall Jackson's body travelled through Lynchburg in 1863.

Stonewall Jackson’s body travelled through Lynchburg in 1863.

This small stretch of cobblestone street spans the old James River and Kanawha Canal. The stone archway that supports the street was built in 1839. Built to improve navigation along the James River, the canal was in full operation during the War and moved supplies, arms and troops between Lynchburg and Richmond. It was near this site that the body of General “Stonewall” Jackson (shot inadvertently by his own men at Chancellorsville) was transferred from railcar to the packetboat Marshall on its solemn return to Lexington. Jackson’s remains arrived around 6:30 p.m., and were given a memorial procession through Downtown Lynchburg before being loaded onto the Marshall. The hull of the Marshall can be seen today in Lynchburg’s Riverside Park, located off of Rivermont Avenue.

Continue down Ninth St
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Railroad Tracks and Casualty Drop

Lynchburg riverfront, c. 1852.  Note the covered bridge that connected Ninth Street to Amherst County.

Lynchburg riverfront, c. 1852. Note the covered bridge that connected Ninth Street to Amherst County.

Here, along the riverfront section that still contains live railroad tracks, ran the lines for the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and the Southside Railroad. These rail lines were vital supply lines for Lee’s Army and connected Lynchburg to Bristol and beyond in the west, Charlottesville to the north, and Richmond to the east. It was a regular occurrence for wounded to be offloaded here and then taken to the many hospitals throughout the city; work that was often performed by women, elderly men, and enslaved African Americans. Following the Battle of the Wilderness in May of 1864, this area would have been filled with thousands of wounded soldiers waiting for medical care.

In June of 1864, as Hunter’s cavalry approached Lynchburg, the citizens of Lynchburg organized a daring ruse. In order to convince the Union forces that many more Confederates were arriving than actually were, an empty train car was run along the track as citizens cheered as though Confederate soldiers were being offloaded again and again.