Publisher: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division
A photograph taken on June 28, 1864, shows Union soldiers and civilians lounging on the front steps of Arlington House, the home of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and his family. In the early nineteenth century, George Washington Parke Custis, the stepgrandson of the first president, built the Greek Revival mansion on a hillside above the Potomac River across from the nation's capital. Arlington was inherited by Custis's daughter, Mary Randolph Custis, who married Robert E. Lee.
Shortly after Lee sided with the Confederacy and accepted command of Virginia's forces, his wife and children fled the house. By the end of May 1861, the Union army was occupying the grounds of the estate. In 1863 the U.S. government established a Freedmen's Village there that was intended to serve as a model community for African Americans freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. The following year, the Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army ordered that a section of the grounds be dedicated to a military cemetery—Arlington National Cemetery, which continues to serve as a final resting place for members of the United States armed forces.