Unlike many Virginia communities, Stafford County's Civil War history does not detail the treacherous scene of full-scale battle. Instead, its tales include unique accounts of ship-to-shore attacks, calvary skirmishes, "beanpoles and cornstalks" railroad bridges, and prisoner camps. But most notedly, over 140,000 soldiers camped in Stafford, Virginia in the winter 1862-63 — arguably the largest encampment during the Civil War. Here in the encampments, between battles and behind the front lines, many would die of wounds and disease.
For decades, the tens of thousands of artifacts left behind in these encampments and skirmishes have been gathered and guarded by locals wishing to honor the memories of these fallen, but not forgotten, soldiers. Displays include weapons, ammunition, bottles, plates, canteens, tools, coins, buttons and numerous personal artifacts.
Unique artifacts helped local historians identify the actual campsites of various units. Stories from soldiers' letters and diaries help to verify these unit campsites. Few other museums offer this research to locate the very spot where our ancestors once stood.
Hand-made replica camp huts — consisting of wood, mud, stone, brick and canvas — will help visitors experience the soldiers' living conditions. Outdoors, walk-in displays help visitors young and old understand the size of the living quarters, and the soldiers exposure to the elements.
This experience is made possible largely by the efforts of one local carpenter/fisherman, who made each and every display. As part of this hobby, over the course of one year, he recreated a period cannon, by hand, to the specifications used during the Civil War. Come meet the man behind this preservation treasure.
This collection is housed in the "White Oak School." After the White Oak School burned, it was rebuilt in 1912 as a one-room schoolhouse. Over the years the grades ranged from primary to the seventh grade. After closing in the mid-1960's, it was used by the Headstart program until the 1980's. Through a public-private partnership, the old school was converted into a museum. Thanks to many dedicated "old time relic hunters" from Stafford County, it now houses a unique collection of Civil War artifacts.
Several weekend living history programs are hosted here throughout the year, most notably around Memorial Day. Reenactors camp on site, using some of the replica winter huts, and bringing additional living quarters to help demonstrate the experience of Civil War camp life. Please call for details about the next upcoming event.
This church, organized in 1789, was first known as White Oak Church of Christ but changed its name in the 1830's in opposition to baptists straying from original doctrines. Many early black members had been slaves at Chatham plantation — now a National Park service site about 5 miles West of the church. The church was used as a hospital during the Civil War. It is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It still remains today, and is located directly across the street from the museum.
Open 10am to 5pm
Wednesday thru Sunday
|6 & Under||FREE|