On May 13, 1864, a Confederate prisoner of war was buried on the grounds of Arlington House, now >Arlington National Cemetery External. The prisoner, who had died at a local hospital, was the first soldier buried at the cemetery, located on the Potomac River opposite Washington, D.C. It now contains the graves of soldiers from every war in which the United States has participated, including the American Revolution.
Arlington House was built in 1802 by George Washington Parke Custis, adopted son of George Washington. In 1831, Custis’ daughter, Mary Anna, married Lieutenant Robert E. Lee in the main hall of the mansion. The couple resided there until 1861, when Lee took command of Confederate troops in the Civil War. After Lee’s departure, the Union Army transformed Arlington House, also called the Custis-Lee Mansion, into a military headquarters and the grounds into a camp. In 1864, the estate was declared a military cemetery by order of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.
Lee’s eldest son, George Washington Custis Lee, challenged the government’s assumption of the property for years, eventually securing $150,000 in compensation. In 1925, the U.S. War Department began restoring Arlington House to its pre-War condition. Today, it is maintained by the National Park Service as a memorial to Robert E. Lee.
As of 2006, more than 320,000 people are buried at Lee’s former estate. Each year, Memorial Day is honored at Arlington National Cemetery by the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which houses the remains of three unknown servicemen from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Other memorials at the cemetery include the mast of the U.S.S. Maine, a monument to Robert Peary, and the graves of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
- Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920
- Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
- Washington as It Was: Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959
- Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, 1933-Present
To retrieve over forty images of Arlington House, search on Custis Lee in Washington as It Was: Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959.
Also, be sure to see the Today in History features on these American landmarks:
- The White House
- The Washington Monument
- The Statue of Liberty