Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for many of our nation’s most cherished HEROES. Its history dates back to the Civil War when the U.S. Government foreclosed on the estate of CSA General Robert E. Lee. Overlooking Washington City, and the Potomac River, the estate was built as a tribute to George Washington by his step grandson, George Washington Parke Custis. Custis’ daughter, Mary, would wed Lee, and after Custis’ death, in 1857, Lee and his wife would inherit the sprawling estate. After the foreclosure, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs petitioned to have Union casualties of war buried there. Arlington National Cemetery, as it was to be known, was created in 1864 to ease the demand for graves for Union soldiers killed in the line of duty. Meigs’ son, Lieutenant John R. Meigs, would be interred near the Custis mansion after being killed in a small skirmish at Swift Run Gap, Virginia, in October 1864. The senior Meigs would also be buried there with his son. A postbellum lawsuit, settled by the U.S. Supreme Court, United States vs. Lee, would declare that the foreclosure was illegal and the property was to be returned to Lee’s oldest son, George Washington Custis Lee. With thousands of dead Union soldiers buried around the mansion, Lee sold the property to the government for $150,000 ensuring that the soldiers’ graves remain undisturbed. Encompassing over 600 acres of ground, Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for over 300,000 soldiers and their immediate families. With its rolling hills, manicured lawns, gardens and huge trees, many of which predate the Civil War, this national treasure is a “must see” for anyone visiting our nation’s capital.
This past September, I was able to visit Arlington National Cemetery, as I do on many occasions when I am in Washington D.C. I never tire of the serenity and beauty of the place. With so many Civil War soldiers to visit, I always plan my trip ahead of time. On this visit I was able to pay my regards to several Civil War notables: William F. “Baldy” Smith, John P. Hatch, Frank Wheaton, George Crook, Samuel D. Sturgis and Philip H. Sheridan. Some lesser known soldiers were also part of my itinerary and included: Joseph A. Mower, Stephen G. Burbridge, Thomas T. Crittenden and Green C. Smith. To view my photo essay click on the following link:
To view more photos of Arlington National Cemetery, click on the following link: