February 11, 2016

Itinerary: Civil War Alexandria

Though there are only two episodes left in the first season of PBS’ new original series "Mercy Street," fans can still experience the world of Union-occupied Alexandria and uncover the real people and stories that inspired this medical drama. We have compiled a list of must-do tours and can’t-miss exhibits around the longest Union-occupied city of the Civil War. Keep reading to plan your next trip to historic Alexandria.

The cast of Mercy Street pose in front of the fireplace in the Monaco Alexandria Hotel

photo by: M Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

"Mercy Street" cast members pose in the Monaco Alexandria hotel.

Where To Stay

Book the “Have Mercy” package at the Kimpton’s Monaco Alexandria hotel in the heart of Old Town Alexandria. Formerly known as the Marshall House, this is known as the site of the first officer casualty of the Civil War. Colonel Elmer Ellsworth was killed by confederate James Jackson during the Union takeover of the city as he descended the roof carrying the Confederate flag he had removed from the flagpole.

In addition to a deluxe room, guests are treated to two tickets to the Carlyle House Historic Park and two Civil War-inspired cocktails at adjacent restaurant Jackson 20. With starting rates of $179 per night (not including tax), five percent of the package proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross. This package special runs until July 1, 2016.

Historic image of the Marshall House in Alexandria

photo by: Alexander Gardner, Library of Congress LOT 3859

Marshall House as it looked in 1862.

Waterfront of Alexandria with the Washington Monument in the background

photo by: Visit Alexandria

Alexandria Waterfront

What To Do

Beyond the Battlefield Walking Tour: Hosted by the Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden

This tour lasts approximately two hours and covers 1.5 miles of Civil War locations including those that inspired “Mercy Street.” Expect to learn more about the soldiers, citizens, and enslaved of Alexandria during the occupation and emancipation of the city. For dates and time, call 703-548-1789 or email contact@leefendallhouse.org.

Medical Heroism in Alexandria: One of three “Mercy Street”-inspired tours hosted by DC Military Tours

Starting in April, visitors are invited to travel by boat and by land to learn about the medical history of Alexandria including a visit to a former Civil War hospital.

Speak, Sister: Alexandria Women’s Songs and Stories of the Civil War

On March 10, 2016, the historic Athenaeum will host a performance in which local actors will read from diaries and letters of women who lived in Alexandria during the Civil War. Award-winning bluegrass band Dead Men’s Hollow will play songs of the Civil War. For more information, go to www.nvfaa.org.

Wet Your Whistle

Old Town waterfront restaurant Blackwall Hitch commemorates Alexandria’s Civil War history with three new cocktails—The General: a martini with single malt whiskey, house-made raspberry syrup, and lemon juice; the Confederate Flip: rum, egg, and molasses topped with Devils Backbone Vienna Lager; and the Mercy Street Sour: Bowman’s Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey, apricot brandy, fresh sour mix, and ruby port.

Reel Places: The Real Places Behind PBS' "Mercy Street"

Though it proved impossible to film PBS’s “Mercy Street” in Old Town Alexandria where the true story of Mansion House hospital unfolded, today visitors can visit many of the real, historic locations that inspired this Civil War drama.

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Katharine Keane is a former editorial assistant at Preservation Magazine. She enjoys getting lost in new cities, reading the plaques at museums, and discovering the next great restaurant.

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