Located in Old Town Winchester on the Downtown Mall, the ca. 1840 Greek Revival Frederick County Courthouse now serves this historic town as the Old Court House Civil War Museum. The courthouse served as a hospital and prison for both sides during the Civil War, and during that time both Union and Confederate soldiers wrote their names and inscriptions on the walls. Their writings are well preserved in shadow boxes with accompanying exhibits including the soldiers' stories and artifacts. Other exhibits include artillery, ammunition and panels that interpret Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign during the Civil War.

One of the most poignant stories told at the museum is that of Private John Richards of the Company C 16th Regiment Massachusetts Infantry. At the age of 21 Richards volunteered for military service after the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter. While stationed at Fort Monroe Richards witnessed the Battle of the Ironclads. The following year he was taken prisoner after Manassas II and later returned to his regiment. Richards survived the Battle of Gettysburg only to become ill and unable to march with his regiment. He fell behind and was captured by Confederates in Loudoun County. He was held here in the Old Court House until his transfer to Belle Isle Prison in Richmond where he later died of pneumonia.

Old Court House Civil War Museum Soldier Cannon Balls Old Court House Civil War Museum Windows

The museum features artillery and ammunition displays in addition to the soldiers' stories and is located on the Downtown Mall convenient to shopping and dining.

The museum also tells the story of the women of Winchester during the Civil War. Winchester changed hands more than 70 times during the War as both Union and Confederate forces alternately took control. During times of Union occupation Confederate resistance was led by the women of Winchester who were declared 'devils' by U.S. Secretary of State William Seward. The women's written accounts of the numerous battles that occurred in the area earned them the moniker of 'Devil Diarists.' Yet, many Winchester women remained pro-Union including Rebecca Wright, a Quaker school teacher turned Union spy. Wright provided valuable information to Union Gen. Sheridan that ultimately led to his victory at Opequon Third Winchester Battlefield.

Old Court House Civil War Museum Kernstown Graffiti

An exhibit at the museum tells the story of Private David A. Powell of Chester County, Pennsylvania, who was captured at Kernstown II and take as prisoner to the courthouse. Powell's graffiti is preserved in the exhibit's shadow box on the right.

Old Court House Civil War Museum Union Graffiti

Another exhibit tells the story of Union soldiers captured at Gettysburg who were brought to the courthouse and left their marks on the walls. Their writings are preserved in the shadow boxes.

Historical Photo

Frederick County Courthouse

Sketch of Confederate prisoners held outside the courthouse after the Third Battle of Winchester, James Taylor, 1864 (The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio)

Pictured at the very top: The ca. 1840 Greek Revival Frederick County Courthouse now serves as the Old Court House Civil War Museum.