First Soldier Buried In What Is Now Arlington National Cemetery
On May 13, 1864, a Confederate prisoner of war was buried on the grounds of Arlington House, now Arlington National Cemetery.
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.
Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia is a military cemetery in the United States, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna (Custis) Lee, a descendant of Martha Washington. The cemetery is situated directly across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. and near The Pentagon. It is served by the Arlington Cemetery station on the Blue Line of the Washington Metro system.
More than 300,000 people are buried in an area of 624 acres (2.53 km2). Veterans and military casualties from every one of the nation's wars are interred in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.
Arlington shares with Mill Springs National Cemetery, the only other open cemetery in the system, the distinction of being the oldest military burial ground in the United States.
The first soldier to be buried in Arlington was Private William Henry Christman of Pennsylvania on May 13, 1864.