The land on which Arlington is located has a long and historic weave. It was originally owned by the Custis family and eventually was passed along to George Washington Parke Custis, the adopted son of George Washington. G.W.P. Custis began building what is now called “The Custis-Lee Mansion” in order to have a facility in which to store momentous of his adopted grandfather, George Washington. Many of Washington's prized possessions, including his battle tents from the Revolutionary War, were maintained and displayed here for years and the rich and powerful were frequent visitors to the estate. When Custis died, he willed the property to his daughter, Mary. She eventually married a young Army officer, Robert E. Lee, and Arlington became their home until the outbreak of the Civil War.
How Did Arlington Become A Cemetery?
Arlington was for many years the estate of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Lee had graduated at the top of his class at West Point and had faithfully served his nation as an Army Officer throughout the Mexican War and then in Engineering and Cavalry assignments throughout our young nation. At the onset of the Civil War, after first refusing the command of all Union forces, he volunteered his services to his home state of Virginia. During the course of the war, his former estate was seized by the Union Army, which made it a headquarters. In 1864, with Union dead piling up throughout the Washington area, the search for a suitable site for a military cemetery resulted in a recommendation from Major General Montgomery Cunningham Meigs (the Union Quartermaster General) that Lee's former estate be converted to a burial ground. Meigs, a Southern native, had remained loyal to the Union and reportedly hated Lee for his service to the Confederate cause. Out of the death and destruction of the Civil War, and from this personal hatred, was born Arlington National Cemetery.
Click Here For A Brief History Of Arlington National Cemetery
Click Here For Historic Photos Of Arlington National Cemetery
Click Here For A 1903 Arlington National Cemetery Booklet
Click Here For The 1949 Armistice Day Program At Arlington National Cemetery
Click Here For A Brochure About The Lee Mansion National Memorial, 1953
Click Here For A 1934 Souvenir Folder Of Arlington National Cemetery
Click Here For A 1920s Arlington National Cemetery Tour Booklet
Click Here For The 1928 National Geographic Article “Fame's Eternal Camping Ground”
Click Here For Press Coverage of the Burial of Spanish-American War Casualties: 6 April 1899
The History of the Sheridan Gate At Arlington National Cemetery
Reviewed by: Michael Howard