– Civil War Series –
Northern Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery occupies a prized piece of real estate, just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. At 624 acres, the sloping hillsides contain the graves of thousands of American military veterans, dating back to the Civil War, as well as a handful of notable civilians, including Presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft.
Less well known is the story of the Arlington House, once the home to General Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s most prominent military leader, and his wife Mary Custis, a relative of President George Washington. The Greek revival-style mansion was built around the same time as the establishment of Washington, DC as the nation’s capital, but—as Lee took up his command in the Confederate Army—was abandoned in the early days of the Civil War in 1861. Thereafter the mansion fell into the hands of the Federal Government and was restored, with help from the National Park Service, which took over jurisdiction of the house in 1933. Today it sits atop a beautiful knoll overlooking the cemetery, the Potomac River, and the National Mall.