National Museum of the Marine Corps – Civil War Gallery

Yesterday I paid a visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia (that’s the official address, but it is outside Quantico).

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National Museum of the Marine Corps

The museum allocates over two-thirds of available space to 20th century topics – The World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam.  That of course makes sense given the Marines’ storied history.  However, included within the 19th century section is a gallery highlighting the Marines’ contributions to the Civil War.

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Entrance to Civil War Gallery

The display reminds us first about the Marine detachment that stormed John Brown’s Fort at Harpers Ferry in 1859.   A diorama depicts that action.

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Storming John Brown's Fort

The also museum houses several artifacts of note.  Suspended above the gallery are these colors.

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First Manassas Colors

The exhibit caption indicates Major John Reynolds’ Marine battalion carried these colors onto the field at First Manassas, July 21, 1861.  Other artifacts on display include uniforms and weapons used by the Marines during the war.

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Marine Firearms of the Civil War

Another exhibit highlights the first Marine Medal of Honor award.

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Corporal Mackie in the Galena

Corporal John Mackie rallied a gun crew on board the USS Galena during the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, May 15, 1862.  The depiction is one of many rather figures in the museum.  (In some cases these are so close to the visitor walk spaces and so realistic, one instinctively asks “excuse me” to pass!)

Further along an exhibit mentions a Marine link to the battle of Gettysburg.

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Lt. Henry Clay Cochrane

Lt. Henry Clay Cochrane accompanied Lincoln to the dedication of the National Cemetery in November 1863.  The Marine Band also played at the ceremony.

This exhibit captured my attention… wonder why?

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Amphibious Artillery

Other exhibits discuss Marines in actions including the USS Kearsarge-CSS Alabama fight and landings in the Carolinas.  Also are reminders that both sides had Marines.

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Wanted: Marines for the Confederacy

All told, I spent about three hours in the museum.  As mentioned, most of the exhibits focus on more recent Marine actions.  So I might produce a few posts for XBradTC’s blog, where those subjects are more in line with the blog theme.

Overall I found the museum very entertaining.  I found some of the mannequins a little too realistic, but overall they illustrated and complemented the story told by the artifacts, pictures, and captions.  The use of tanks and other vehicles into the exhibits is superb.

Visitors with a Civil War focus will not be disappointed, as the staff did much within a small space to bring out the story of the Marines in that war.  A good “on the way” stop for those passing between the DC Northern Virginia stops and the Central Virginia battlefields.  The National Museum of the Marine Corps is located at 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway (US Highway 1).  It is open 9 to 5 daily and admission is free.

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

4 thoughts on “National Museum of the Marine Corps – Civil War Gallery

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