Arlington House
It was here that Robert E. Lee
made his decision to resign
from the U.S. Army.
View of Washington, D.C.
This is a modern view of the
nation's capital taken from the
front of Lee's Arlington House.
Arlington House, Robert E. Lee Memorial - Arlington, Virginia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Arlington House, Robert E. Lee Memorial, Virginia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Arlington House, Robert E. Lee Memorial, Virginia
Arlington House
The home of General Robert E. Lee stands high on
a Virginia hill overlooking the nation's capital and
Arlington National Cemetery.
Home of General Robert E. Lee
High atop a ridge overlooking the nation's
capital, Arlington House was the home of
one of America's most remarkable soldiers,
General Robert E. Lee.

The magnificent columned mansion was
built as a memorial to President George
Washington and was the home of Lee and
his family for thirty years. Six of his seven
children were born at Arlington and it was
here that he made his momentous decision
to resign from the U.S. Army and draw his
sword in the service of Virginia and the
Confederacy.

Now a national park area, Arlington House
was built between 1802 and 1818 by George
Washington Parke Custis and his slaves as
a living memorial to his stepfather, President
George Washington. Custis had been raised
by George and Martha Washington after his
natural father died in 1781, the same year the
Arlington builder was born.

The center of a massive plantation, the
house overlooked the nation's capital from a
high hill in Arlington, Virginia, and to this day
offers one of the finest views of America's
seat of government. It was in the family parlor
of Arlington House that on June 30, 1831,
Custis' daughter Mary Anna married a young
U.S. Army officer named Robert E. Lee. She
had chosen him over a number of other
suitors, including future Texas President
Sam Houston.

Robert and Mary Anna made Arlington their
primary home and it was here that Lee came
to deliberate his future as Civil War loomed
in 1861. It was here that he came after
declining President Abraham Lincoln's offer
of command of the Union army and it was in
a second floor bedroom of Arlington House
that Lee wrote his resignation from the U.S.
Army on April 20, 1861.

While Lee traveled immediately to Richmond
to offer his services to the government of his
home state, he recognized that his home's
location high atop Arlington Heights would
make it an immediate target of the Union
army. He urged his wife to pack the family's
possessions, which included the papers of
President Washington, and evacuate the
home as soon as possible. She left Arlington
on May 15, 1861.
The people of Virginia voted to leave the
Union by a margin of more than three to one
on May 23, 1861. The next day the United
States Army occupied Arlington estate.

Despite written promises to the contrary, the
U.S. Army soon occupied the house itself,
making it a military headquarters. The large
plantation became the site of fortifications,
military camps, supply depots and more.

In 1863 the estate was designated as a
camp for freed slaves and then in 1864 the
U.S. Army began burying its dead on a part of
the plantation grounds.

The use of Arlington as a cemetery for Union
war dead was pushed by the army's quarter-
master general, Montgomery C. Meigs. He
sought to make sure that Lee would never
again be able to occupy his home and
ordered that soldiers be buried directly in the
gardens and yards of the house. By 1866,
more than 17,000 Union soldiers had been
buried on the grounds of Lee's home and
Arlington National Cemetery became a
permanent part of the nation's landscape.

Arlington House now serves as a memorial
to Robert E. Lee. The grounds are open to
the public daily (except for Christmas and
New Year's days) from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The interior of the house is currently being
restored.
Please click here to visit the official
website for directions and more information.
Home of Robert E. Lee
The magnificent house was
the home of Robert E. Lee
and his family for 30 years.
Six of the general's seven
children were born here.
(NPS Photo)
Photos by Melissa Carter
Arlington National Cemetery
The cemetery began when
Union soldiers were buried
on the grounds and in the
garden of Lee's house during
the Civil War.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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