Earlier this summer, while visiting Virginia’s tidewater, I made a stop at the Virginia War Museum in Newport News. The museum boasts a collection of military artifacts, uniforms, weapons, and equipment dating from colonial times to the present day. Although the bulk of exhibits relate to 20th century events, there are several display cases devoted to the Civil War.
Since Virginia was a Confederate state, the Civil War section starts with a display of Confederate uniforms and accouterments.
The Federal cavalry display includes both a Gallagher and a Sharps carbine.
A collection of recovered artillery projectiles includes some rather interesting examples worth closer examination.
A display showing naval artifacts includes a Sharps & Hawkins Carbine.
A little further into the museum is this well preserved field piece:
Well at first glance *looks* like something that *could* have been used in the Civil War. This is actually a 15cm German howitzer of World War I vintage. Notice the lack of modern recoil system or even sighting optics. The Great War was sort of a cross-roads in field artillery, with some anachronistic throw-backs used alongside more modern weapons. This howitzer is one of the former.
As mentioned, most of the museum’s floorspace is dedicated to 20th century exhibits.
Outside the museum is a remarkable arrangement of armored fighting vehicles and cannons, of course most dating to the 20th century.
Some of which are not just rare, but practically “one of a kind.”
While the Civil War section is limited, I would still recommend a visit to the museum if you are in the Hampton-Newport News area – particularly for those interested in military history from a broad context. There are plenty of Civil War related sites nearby (Let me plug the Mariners’ Museum for example) that delve into that period of history, so I think the Virginia War Museum offers a good balance without competing with those venues.
The Virginia War Museum is open daily. Admission is $6 for adults. See the museum web page for more details.