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 :: Capitol Building ::
Information about the Capitol Building in Richmond, VA during the Civil War.

The Virginia State Capitol Building was used by the Confederate States as their Capitol, where the Confederate Senate and House met during the war. At the same time, it remained in use by the Virginia State Legislature. In addition, the Capitol Square was used as a parade ground and promenade by the citizens of Richmond. The following articles and images detail the use of the building and grounds during the Civil War.


850 [Soldiers with stacked arms, resting in the shade on Capitol Square. City Hall beyond.] Alexander Gardner
856 [View of ruins in the Burnt District looking toward the Capitol.] Alexander Gardner
917 [Washington Monument on Capitol Square; soldiers milling about. Similar to 919.]

John Reekie


Washington Monument on Capitol Square, Richmond, April 14, 1865.

John Reekie

937 [St. Paul's Church from Capitol Square.] John Reekie
940 [View on Canal Basin, looking toward the Capitol. Barge at left, Customs House at right.] John Reekie
942 [Bank street at Customs House, cavalry horses tied at Capitol fence.] John Reekie
945 [Burnt District, looking toward the Capitol.] John Reekie


The Capitol, Richmond, Va.


Statue of Henry Clay in Capitol grounds.


Statue of Henry Clay in the Capitol grounds.


Washington Monument in Capitol Grounds.


Washington Monument, in the Capitol grounds, Richmond, Va.


Washington Monument in Capitol grounds.


The Capitol, Richmond, Va.


The Capitol, Richmond, Va.


Statue of Washington, in Capitol grounds.


Henry Clay’s Monument, Richmond, Va.

Written Accounts

Richmond Dispatch 11/12/1860; soldiers at Camp Lee conclude their encampment and are dismissed after parading through town and Capitol Square
Richmond Dispatch 11/12/1860; British account of the Prince of Wales’ trip to Richmond - notes on the ill-taste of the "ruffianly" Richmond crowds, the Prince’s visit to the state Capitol (important anecdote about the Houdon statue), St. Paul’s Church, the fair grounds, Hollywood Cemetery, Governor’s Mansion, Ballard House
Richmond Enquirer 4/15/1861; excellent description of the reaction in Richmond to the news of the fall of Ft. Sumter - description of parade to Tredegar Iron Works and Capitol Square - notes disappointed reaction to Letcher's remarks, and the raising and subsequent lowering of the Confederate flag on the Capitol roof
Richmond Dispatch 4/24/1861; VMI cadets have arrived in Richmond and are quartered at the Fair Grounds (Camp Lee) and parade for the Governor on Capitol Square
Richmond Dispatch 6/5/1861; Vicksburg Southrons arrive and parade in Capitol Square; they are then quartered at the Columbian Hotel
Richmond Dispatch 6/22/1861; the Henry Clay statue on Capitol Square has become discolored by excessive handling
Richmond Dispatch 7/5/1861; Public guard makes its annual 4th of July parade on Capitol Square
Richmond Enquirer 7/6/1861; description of the celebration of the 4th of July in Richmond - Tredegar Battalion parades on Capitol Square, along with the Thomas Artillery, Public Guard, and Washington Artillery
Richmond Dispatch 7/24/1861; description of the arrival of the bodies of Generals Bartow and Bee in Richmond and conveyance to the Capitol to lie in state
Richmond Dispatch 7/25/1861; bodies of Bartow, Bee, and Johnston were escorted from the Capitol to the Petersburg depot for transportation South
Richmond Dispatch 10/5/1861; excellent description of the fitting up of the Capitol building for use by the Confederate Congress
Richmond Dispatch 10/21/1861; description of the celebration of the anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown - Armory Band and Public guard put on festivities in Capitol Square
Richmond Dispatch 10/25/1861; 1NC Cavalry parades through Capitol Square
Richmond Dispatch 11/8/1861; description of the improvements made to the Senate chamber preparatory to the arrival of the Confederate Senate - VA State Senate are relocated upstairs
Richmond Dispatch 12/4/1861; more details on the new Senate chamber for the State Senate
Richmond Whig 1/2/1862; description of New Year's Day in Richmond - notes that the main event was the reception at Pres. Davis' house, and subsequent reception at the Governor's mansion
Richmond Dispatch 1/11/1862; workmen are preparing a room for the C. S. Senate in the northwest corner of the Capitol
Richmond Whig 1/22/1862; Description of the funeral of Pres. John Tyler. Body taken from the "Hall of Congress" to St. Paul's, where the funeral sermon was delivered, and thence to Hollywood Cemetery. Notes that the weather was exceedingly bad.
Richmond Whig 1/27/1862; The Clay Statue in Capitol Square is becoming soiled from exposure to the weather
Richmond Dispatch 2/7/1862; New Senate room, NW corner of Capitol, about finished
Richmond Whig 2/15/1862; Capt. O. J. Wise's remains arrive via the Petersburg depot and taken to lie in state on the third floor of the Capitol in the room "recently fitted up for the occupancy of the Confederate Senate"
Richmond Whig 2/17/1862; description of the funeral of Capt. O. J. Wise at St. James' Church and Hollywood Cemetery. A large number of people came to see the body while it was lying in state, in a metallic coffin, in the Confederate Senate Room at the Capitol.
Richmond Whig 2/21/1862; President Davis will be inaugurated tomorrow; railroad companies will run extra trains; ceremonies will occur on Capitol Square, businesses will be closed
Richmond Whig 2/22/1862; very detailed description of the plans for the inauguration of Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens. After the ceremonies, the "President's Mansion will be open from 8 to 11 o'clock."
Richmond Whig 2/24/1862; description of the inauguration of President Davis and Alexander Stephens at the Capitol, and the lousy weather
Richmond Dispatch

3/7/1862; Tredegar-made brass piece for Cropper’s Co. on display, Capitol Square

Richmond Dispatch 3/13/1862; Major John C. Porter Provost Marshal of the City, with Godwin commanding eastern half and John C. Maynard the western half; Passport office to 9th & Broad & Winder to house on 9th beside Mechanics’ Institute
Richmond Dispatch 3/20/1862; Governor no longer operating at his house – private office at Capitol, public office upstairs at City Hall
Richmond Dispatch 3/26/1862; update on spring improvements at Capitol Square
Richmond Dispatch 4/7/1862; Tredegar Battalion parades on Capitol Square – more than 200 men. One company has 12-pdr howitzers
Richmond Enquirer 4/24/1862; Tredegar Battalion parades with the Armory Band in Capitol Square, and is inspected by the Governor
Richmond Dispatch 5/5/1862; “lunatic” who preached unionism at Washington Monument, Capitol Square,  sent to Castle Godwin
Richmond Dispatch 5/8/1862; paragraph recommending removal of Houdon statue from Capitol
Richmond Dispatch 5/15/1862; Men wishing to be sharpshooters along river bank to gather at Washington Monument
Richmond Dispatch 5/27/1862; prisoners from state penitentiary mow grass on Capitol Square
Richmond Whig 5/30/1862; the Clay Statue in Capitol Square has become very nasty; editorial urging for authorities to clean it up
Richmond Dispatch 6/4/1862; cows and animals straying into Capitol Square will be shot
Richmond Dispatch 6/12/1862; popularity of Capitol Square re-confirmed
Richmond Enquirer 7/16/1862; inside of Capitol building in festooned with captured United States flags
Richmond Dispatch 7/25/1862; Capitol Square no longer “a resort for idle soldiers”
Richmond Dispatch 8/14/1862; update on conversion of Capitol building to accommodate Confederate Congress
Richmond Dispatch 8/16/1862; Maj. Wilkins’ 2nd Class Militia parade on Capitol Square – look good
Richmond Dispatch 8/18/1862; obit. of General Winder. Body arrived 7/17. Funeral Capitol Square, burial Hollywood
Richmond Whig 8/18/1862; Gen. C. S. Winder’s body arrived and lay in state in the Capitol. He will be buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
Richmond Dispatch 8/25/1862; 42 NC voluntarily sleeps on Capitol Square
Richmond Dispatch 9/5/1862; old building on west side of Capitol Square – formerly Washington Tavern & then Monument Hotel, now occupied by 2nd Auditor’s office
Richmond Enquirer 9/24/1862; remains of General Starke, killed at Sharpsburg, arrives at the Central depot, and escorted to the Capitol where they were laid in state
Richmond Dispatch 10/21/1862; 25VaBn barracks south side of basin. To have drill today at Camp Lee & Capitol Square
Richmond Dispatch 11/5/1862; E. Hunter Taliaferro of Stafford Co., First Doorkeepers, State Senate, arrested for theft & forgery
Richmond Dispatch 11/6/1862; Mayor’s Court: Jas. Pearson, of Drewry’s Bluff command, jailed for assault; woman tried for stealing $10 worth of silverware from Spotswood; details on E. Hunter Taliaferro case
Richmond Enquirer 11/26/1862; excellent description of the Confederate stables, located on Capitol and 10th streets
Richmond Dispatch 11/28/1862; City Bn. has drill on Capitol Square. Five companies of 40 men each
Richmond Dispatch 12/16/1862; T. P. Turner on leave, so Libby commanded by Lt. Virginius Bossieux; City Battalion dress parade, Capital Square
Richmond Sentinel 3/20/1863; body of John Pelham has been brought to the Capitol to lie in state - the body of Major Puller (ancestor to the famous USMC General "Chesty" Puller) has passed through Richmond on the York River Railroad
Richmond Sentinel 3/21/1863; description of the body of Maj. John Pelham lying in state at the State Capitol - includes letter from J. E. B. Stuart
Richmond Sentinel 4/1/1863; dress parades of the City Battalion and Smith's Armory Band are attracting ladies to Capitol Square every night
Richmond Sentinel 4/9/1863; City Battalion is to be increased in size, and parades nightly on Capitol Square, to the delight of the ladies
Richmond Sentinel 4/18/1863; the Washington Statue in Capitol Square has been adopted as the official seal of the Confederacy
Richmond Sentinel 4/22/1863; the Clay statue in Capitol Square has been mutilated by young boys - two fingers missing
Richmond Enquirer 5/12/1863; detailed description of the arrival of Gen. Stonewall Jackson's remains and the subsequent procession to Capitol Square
Richmond Dispatch 5/12/1863; detailed description of the arrival in Richmond of Stonewall Jackson's remains and the procession through the city
Richmond Dispatch 5/13/1863; detailed description of the funeral procession of Gen. Stonewall Jackson
Richmond Dispatch 5/14/1863; new Confederate flag will be displayed on the Capitol today
Richmond Dispatch 5/14/1863; Stonewall Jackson's remains were taken from the Capitol to the Central RR depot
Richmond Sentinel 7/23/1863; body of Gen. Pettigrew arrives by the RF&P RR and lies in state in the Capitol
Richmond Sentinel 8/5/1863; the Winder building, on 10th between Broad and Capitol streets, is nearly completed; declares it better than the stables that formerly occupied the site
Richmond Whig 1/1/1864; announcement of the reception at Jefferson Davis' house from noon to 3, as well as the inauguration of Gov. Smith at noon at the Capitol
Richmond Whig 1/18/1864; Gens. Hood, Breckinridge, and Morgan visit the House of Representatives
Richmond Whig 2/29/1864; bell at the first market has cracked, which had given the fire alarm. Advocates the "bell house" at Capitol Square do the job in the meantime
Richmond Sentinel 5/25/1864; VMI cadets parade at Capitol Square following the Battle of New Market
Richmond Examiner 5/25/1864; VMI cadets arrive in Richmond and parade in Capitol Square and hear speeches from Governor Smith and President Davis
Richmond Whig 5/25/1864; VMI cadets parade in Capitol Square and are reviewed by President Davis. Afterwards, they listen to a speech from Governor Smith
Richmond Examiner 5/28/1864; VMI cadets parade and receive a new stand of colors
Richmond Sentinel 6/24/1864; boys are throwing stones at the Washington and Clay monuments and each other. The mayor clamps down and orders all offenders arrested. Brief description of a rock battle between boys on Gamble's and Penitentiary hills
Richmond Whig 8/20/1864; horse of Gov. Smith dies of lockjaw in Capitol Square, after attempting to jump a fence
Richmond Sentinel 9/15/1864; Gen. Morgan's remains will arrive in the city soon and be taken to the State Capitol to lie in state, and then be buried at Hollywood until Kentucky can take him home
Richmond Sentinel 9/17/1864; description of Gen. Morgan's body lying in state in the Capitol, and burial at Hollywood
Richmond Whig 9/17/1864; description of the arrival of Gen Morgan's remains via the Danville train, their lying in state in the Capitol building and burial in Hollywood cemetery
Richmond Whig 10/10/1864; description of the funeral of Gen. John Gregg, of Texas, and procession from the Capitol to Hollywood Cemetery.
Richmond Sentinel 3/21/1865; Winder-Jackson Battalion; including Negroes to parade
Richmond Dispatch 3/23/1865; negroes employed at Winder & Jackson join the army
Richmond Enquirer 3/23/1865; description of the Winder-Jackson Battalion's parade at Capitol square; call for Richmond ladies to produce a flag for this unit
Richmond Sentinel 3/23/1865; description of the Winder-Jackson Battalion's parade at Capitol square
Richmond Sentinel 3/30/1865; description of recent renovation to the interior of the Capitol; laments the spitting of tobacco juice
New York Herald 4/4/1865; Details on the fall of Richmond and subsequent occupation - notes the reception of the Union soldiers in Richmond has been very pleasant
Richmond Whig 4/4/1865; excellent account of the evacuation and burning of Richmond
New York Herald 4/5/1865; Details on the Federal occupation of Richmond - notes that much railroad stock was captured at Richmond
New York Herald 4/6/1865; Details on the Federal occupation of Richmond - notes that the furniture in the White House of the Confederacy was left behind, and that Tredegar survived the fire. Libby Prison and Castle Thunder are now full of Confederate prisoners
National Tribune

8/10/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond;” part four of serial account. Describes John Minor Bott’s stay in “a negro jail in Lombard Alley” [Castle Godwin], the economic situation in Richmond, the Battle of First Manassas, the man who [Mr. Gretter] who tossed the first shovelful of dirt for the Richmond defenses, the dangerous nature of “Lombard Alley” [probably Locust Alley], and the post-war collapse of the upper floor of the Capitol building

National Tribune 7/12/1900; good account of the fall of Richmond in 1865, by a boy who lived on Church Hill; notes that advancing Union troops were fired upon from convalescent patients from Chimborazo

Page last updated on 07/17/2008