Manassas Museum Book Talk: The Washington Arsenal Explosion

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City of Manassas, VA . . . The deadly explosion that took the lives of the women at Fort McNair is the subject of The Washington Arsenal Explosion, Civil War Disaster in the Capital – a free book talk.  Join Erin Bergin Voorheis, the author’s wife and editor, as she talks about her late husband’s book on Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m. at the Manassas Museum.

On June 17, 1864, dangerous working conditions and a series of unfortunate events led to the deadly explosion of a Federal arsenal at Fort McNair, where young women made cartridges to assist the war effort. Author Brian Bergin wrote about the little-known event, detailing the poor workingconditions, the investigation into the avoidable events leading to the tragedy, and the reaction of a community already battered by the Civil War. The women lived in the close-knit poor Irish neighborhood called the Island; and whenthey died, their funeral was one of the largest ever seen in that district.

Brian Bergin had a deep fascination for history andstory-telling. To better understand historic places and people, he recreated Lewis and Clark’s journey from Missouri to Oregon, biked the C&O Canal from Cumberland, Maryland, back to his home in Arlington, Virginia; and hiked inShenandoah National Park to learn about the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Erin Bergin Voorheis is a freelance technical writer and editor. The Washington Arsenal Explosion, Civil War Disaster in the Capital is available at Echoes, The Manassas Museum Store.


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