Capstone Cultural Event 1: Historic Winchester/Civil War Museum

Old Town Winchester

     Since the weather was so beautiful this past weekend, I took advantage of it by taking a trip to historic Winchester to visit the Civil War Museum.  When I first arrived in Winchester, I was somewhat concerned because the city was under much construction.  Fortunately, though, all of the shops, restaurants, and attractions were accessible and open.  Although there are many different attractions in historic Winchester, I really enjoy visiting all types of museums and the Civil War has always been an interesting topic to me.  When I discovered the Civil War Museum, I decided to explore it.  When I first arrived, several high school aged boys were working there.  They asked if I would like to hear some background information about the museum and I was eager to listen.  The boy revealed that during the Civil War, the museum was used as a hospital and a jail for the soldiers.  Because the area was constantly changing sides, the prisoners never stayed for long.  Each time the city changed sides, the current prisoners would be released.  Although the building is quite old, it is the same building used during the Civil War, with some renovations.  The doctors and nurses were always cleaning up blood from the wounded so there were no stains.

Defendant and Judge

     After the war was over, the hospital/jail changed into a courthouse.  It was used as a courthouse for many years.  Recently, a new courthouse was built and the building was turned into a civil war museum.  The bottom floor of the courthouse included a small gift shop and a room set up as the court would have been in the late 1800 and early 1900.  The judge and jury would directly face the defendant.  However, since the judge was higher, he could not see the jury.  The upstairs of the museum included many artifacts from the civil war, actual graffiti written on the walls from the jail times, and an old, working bell that I even rang!  Overall, the museum served as a major learning experience for me.  Living in West Virginia, when I think of the civil war, I generally think of Harper’s Ferry, Gettysburg, or Antietam.  Honestly, I never realized the significance Winchester played in the war.  It is interesting to know that the city was constantly changing sides and played such a major part in the war.  Overall, I really enjoyed visiting the museum.  I feel lucky to live in an area rich with history.  It is up to me, though, to explore that history to learn more.  I would recommend anyone, young or old, to discover this museum.  It would even be a great place for area middle school or high school history classes to visit.

Ringing the Bell

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