As I was about to settle in at the Local History Room of the Alexandria Library to do battle with the microfilm machine, I learned from a colleague that the Alexandria Gazette (my target for the day) is digitized....through the Arlington County Public Library. Not sure why not in Alexandria, although Arlington County was indeed "Alexandria County" until the early 1900s.
With a current Arlington card (available to us in Alexandria, as well as people in DC and nearby VA and MD jurisdictions), I could access the Gazette, the Washington Star, and the New York Times from the 1860s "from the comfort of my own home."
Better yet, the quality of at least the Gazette pages I have scanned so far is really good.
Hoping to pick up the local color, the first thing I read on November 1, 1862, was a complaint that oysters cost 75 cents in Alexandria, compared to only 25 cents in Washington. Glad we have our priorities!
If you have or can get a card, go to the library website/Research/Premium Sites.