Not too far from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is section 16. It holds the remains of 482 confederate soldiers and the Confederate Memorial. The cemetery began as a Civil War burial ground in 1864, but it wasn’t until 1901 that Confederate Soldiers were recognized at Arlington.
In the years following the Civil War, feelings between the North and the South remained bitter and tense. Hundreds of confederates were buried at the cemetery, but their family and friends were not allowed to decorate the graves. In some extreme cases, they were even denied access to the cemetery.
In 1898, the Spanish American War broke out after the USS Maine sank in Havana Harbor (you can see the mast of the Maine in section 46). The short war brought former Union and Confederate soldiers together against a common enemy and eased tensions between the North and the South. As a result, in 1901 Confederate soldiers from national cemeteries in Alexandria, Virginia and The Soldiers’ Home in the District were brought to Arlington. The 482 Confederates include enlisted men, officers, wives, civilians, and unknown people. There is a myth that the Confederate headstones are pointed to prevent union service members from sitting on top of them out of disrespect. However, the real reason that they are pointed is simply to distinguish them from the rest of the markers in the cemetery.
Later, in June of 1914, the Confederate Memorial was added to section 16. The United Daughters of the Confederacy petitioned to have it erected. Confederate veteran Moses Ezekiel was chosen to sculpt the structure. Moses now lays to rest at the base of his masterpiece. Atop the memorial is a woman. She represents the South and is extending her hand toward the South in honor of her fallen sons.
The Civil War took the lives of over 600,000 Americans – both Northerners and Southerners. Arlington National Cemetery honors all American fallen service members. Take the live narrated tram tour to learn more about the Confederate Memorial, the Civil War, and the brave men and women who have fought for this Country.
Arlington National Cemetery
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