The Museum of the Confederacy is considering a presence at Fort Monroe in Hampton where it could showcase its collection of naval artifacts.
The Richmond-based museum has an expansion plan underway which would see three satellite locations being set up.
Robert Hancock, senior curator and director of collections, said the museum is working on building a facility at Appomattox, the scene of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
Another outlet is planned in the Fredericksburg area, the scene of many Civil War battles and a third at Fort Monroe.
"Fort Monroe depends on a lot of things out of our control. The U.S. Army is moving out," Hancock said.
He said what happens at the post is still the subject of talks involving the state, the Army, the city of Hampton and other agencies.
"The idea at this point is to create a system of museums," he said. "We are looking to expand out because we are hemmed in right now," he said of the museum on E. Clay Street in Richmond.
"The idea is if you can't get to us, we will come to you," Hancock said.
Appomattox is the first proposed site for a new museum. Hancock said the museum is working on a land purchase and is raising money.
There are a lot of people and entities involved in Fort Monroe. "Right now we are not directly involved in any talks that are going on," he said.
Hancock said Fort Monroe played a key part in the Civil War in relation to slavery. Gen. Benjamin Butler refused to return escaped slaves to masters supporting the Confederacy, which amounted to classifying them as "contraband."
"A lot of escaped slaves went there," Hancock said.
"There are a lot of aspects of that area that we can deal with directly. First and foremost is the subject of slavery in the south and freedom," Hancock said. "Fort Monroe was used as a prison and Jefferson Davis was there. We have a whole lot of Davis artifacts."
"We can move our entire navy collection down there, as well. We have a very large navy collection," he said.
Hancock said the navy collection includes swords, uniforms and several models currently in storage.
"We have items that are directly related to the Virginia at the Battle of Hampton Roads," Hancock said.
The collection includes the uniform, documents and effects of Robert Dabney Minor, who was on the Virginia but was wounded on the first day of the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 8, 1862.
Dabney's blue and gray uniforms are in the collection, Hancock said Confederate sailors were meant to wear gray but many preferred the old blue uniform from the days before the Confederacy broke away.
The museum boasts some belongings of Matthew Fontaine Maury, the famous cartographer, historian and astronomer, as well as a model and the battle flag of the CSS Shenandoah, a vessel that the Confederacy commissioned in England. The ship was off the coast of Alaska, attacking Union whaling ships, when its crew found out the war had ended. It circumnavigated the globe to surrender back in England.
Hancock believes interest in the Civil War will peak again next year with the 150th anniversary.
"Interest has never really waned," he said. "When the anniversary comes up we are hoping people will want to take a vacation, if the economy's good enough."
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