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See new exhibit at Casemate open house Thursday
By MARK ST. JOHN ERICKSON - 757-247-4783
HAMPTON - The Casemate Museum at Fort Monroe will hold an open house 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Thursday to showcase a new permanent exhibit exploring the historic Union bastion's pivotal role during the Civil War.
Funded by the Casemate Museum Foundation, the exhibit will use period artifacts, models and interpretative signage to highlight the fort's links to such famous events as the 1862 battle between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia -- also known as the Merrimack. Other subjects include the post's crucial military role as the staging ground for numerous invasions of the South as well as Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler's historic 1861 decision to harbor fleeing black slaves as contraband of war.
Among the artifacts that will be on view are Butler's mess chest, a mallet from the CSS Virginia and a pass box from the USS Cumberland, which was destroyed off Newport News by the Virginia during the Battle of Hampton Roads. The exhibit also will include models of the famed ironclads as well as a collection of Civil War weapons.
"The purpose of this open house is to reach out to the public outside the gates of Fort Monroe and connect them with this new exhibit," museum director Paul Morando said.
"More importantly, we want to express that the Casemate Museum is open and will continue to produce new exhibits and public programs in order to ensure that the public appreciates the rich history of the United States Army and Fort Monroe."
The Casemate is located at 20 Bernard Road inside the Fort Monroe moat. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily. Free. Call 757-788-3391 or log onto to www.monroe.army.mil for more information.