Union Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs appropriated land around Arlington House from its owner Gen. Robert E. Lee in June 1864 for use as Arlington National Cemetery. General Meigs wanted to make Arlington House uninhabitable for the Lee family by placing Union soldier’s graves right to the front porch. In his excellent documentary, The Civil War, filmmaker Ken Burns adds that General Meigs had previously lost his son, a Union soldier, in battle against Lee led forces and the appropriation of Lee’s land was particularly satisfying to the Quartermaster General.
I have only seen Arlington by photo or film. It is a place I must visit before I die. My daughter has been there on a school group trip led by my good friends, and excellent teachers, the Lane Brothers. She loved Arlington and everything about Washington, DC. Coach Lane once gave me a football scout VCR tape, on which at the very end of the tape was copied the film he took of the changing of the guard at the Tomb on the Unknown Soldier. I still have that tape safely stored away. Incredible. Solemn. Beautiful.