The Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum is first museum in the Centreville historic district.Credit Anita Klimko
Grand Opening of The Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum
Saturday, June 16th, 2012 starting at 2pm
History buffs on Saturday opened a new museum in the Historic Centreville Park, the first such facility in the community’s historic district that dates back to pre-revolutionary Virginia.
The launch of the Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum was timed to coincide with Centreville Day, the one-day festival that celebrates the community’s rich historical tapestry back to when it was known as a humble crossroads town.
The museum display artifacts connected to Confederate stalwarts Gen. James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart (who first distinguished himself at the battle of First Manassas in July 1861) and Col. John Mosby, whose daring Partisan Raiders turned most of Fairfax County into what was known as Mosby’s Confederacy.
Work on the museum has been going on for about six months, said museum curator and author Howard Crouch, who added that the site was historically significant. Centreville’s location, as a trading crossroads, was a key factor that led to the construction of seven massive Civil War fortifications by Confederate forces.
The new museum is on Braddock Road, near Route 29, and is adjacent to the Mt Gilead house, built circa 1785, the oldest standing structure in the county. The museum’s location is fitting because it sits near the site of one of the old Confederate forts.
“With a good pair of field glasses, you could watch troop movements all the way to Manassas,” said Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey, who toured the museum on Saturday. “That’s why they put the forts on the top of the hills here.”
Frey, himself well-versed in local history, said the museum is a welcome addition.
“The museum is a significant addition because it demonstrates how the Civil War was very important to how Centreville grew,” Frey said.
The yellow-brick museum occupies an old realtor's office that was donated to the group, Crouch said. The building is actually an old gas station that was moved from Lee Highway into the historic district years ago. It was said to have been the first gas station in Centreville, according to Frey.
On Saturday, the museum enjoyed a brisk business as school children and their parents viewed the display cases – which included sabers and a pistol that could have been used by Mosby. Organizers hoped that visitors will keep coming.
“It’s more than just a bunch of artifacts,” said Mike Singer, a volunteer from the Northern Virginia Relic Hunters Association. “This is history. If you don’t put the relics that we find together with the history, then you don’t have anything. And this is important to preserve for future generations.”
The museum is free and will be open on Saturday and Mondays.
About this column: Column focusing on local history and sites to explore within an easy drive from Centreville. Generally published bi-monthly. Local history buff interested in submitting an article? Email email@example.com.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Civil War Museum Opens in Centreville
Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum Free to Public
by Gregg MacDonald, STAFF WRITER
Don Hakenson places ribbons from the annual reunion of members of Mosby's Men inside a display case at
The Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum in Centreville Monday morning. Photograph by Shamus Ian Fatzinger/Fairfax County Times.
A private building adjacent to Historic Centreville Park is home to Fairfax County’s newest Civil War museum, operated by a local nonprofit that hopes to make Centreville a Civil War history destination.
The Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum, 13938 Braddock Road, opened Oct. 22 in a former commercial property, owned by local realtor Dennis Hogge, that couldn’t be more fitting to bear the names of two of Virginia’s most notable Confederate soldiers.
John Singleton Mosby, nicknamed the "Gray Ghost," was a Confederate cavalry battalion commander probably best known for his guerilla-like raids on Union encampments, most of which were within Fairfax County, according to historian, author and assistant museum curator Don Hakenson.
"Mosby was the father of guerilla warfare," Hakenson said. "His tactics are still studied today by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. He had no military background, but was probably the most successful guerilla fighter in the history of our country."
Col. J.E.B. Stuart is well known for his actions at the Battle of First Manassas in July 1861, leading a charge aiding in the victory for the Confederacy. Stuart was promoted to brigadier general two months later, and eventually was the one who gave Mosby a small group of rangers to conduct independent partisan operations into northern Virginia, Hakenson said. These rangers eventually became the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, and would grow from nine to as many as 2,000 men.
“The new Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum is housed in a former commercial building constructed with stones from Centreville’s historical Grigsby House, otherwise known as the ‘four-chimney-house’,” said Hakenson. “That is significant because it was this house which once served as Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s headquarters; where Mosby met Stuart for the very first time.”
Today, it houses the 24-foot by 30-foot free museum operated by the Stuart-Mosby Historical Society, a nonprofit organization comprised of about 200 members. The museum also serves as the society’s headquarters, Hakenson said.
“We hope to make Centreville a tourist destination for those interested in Civil War history,” he said. “Our primary goal is to educate.”
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Saturdays and houses Civil War cavalry artifacts such as pistols, swords, saddles, artillery shells, clothing, and a variety of items that were owned by both Stuart and Mosby, according to museum curator Howard Crouch.
“Some items came from the Virginia Historical Society,” Crouch said. “Others came from Randolph Macon College, the Fairfax City Museum and both the Mosby and Stuart families.”
According to Hakenson, the museum houses at least three very personal item of Stuart’s.
“We actually have a lock of his hair on display,” he said, “as well as a spoon that is reported to have fallen out of his pocket the day before he died and a saber he used that the society paid $20,000 for.”
Fairfax County Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully) said the museum is a welcome addition to Centreville’s historic district.
“The Civil War was one of the most important periods in Centreville history,” he said. “This museum is a great addition and I am just thrilled that it is here. I hope that the schools will take advantage of it to help educate children about both the Civil War, and Centreville’s history during that period.”
For more information about The Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum, call (703) 971-4984.
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