Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First Burial

Arlington National Cemetery accepted her first solider on May 13th 1864, the Pennsylvania Private William Henry Christman.

The Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia is a military cemetery established on the estate of Robert E Lee’s wife, Mary Anna [Custis] Lee, known as Arlington House. She was the descendant of the first First Lady Martha Washington. When Lee joined the Confederate Army, Union troops occupied the home and forced Mary Lee off her property. The cemetery is right across the Potomac River from Washington DC.

William Henry Christman was born 1843. He was a labored from Lehigh County Pennsylvania, and enlisted in the Union Army March 25th 1864 as a member of the 67th PA Infantry. He came down with measles three weeks latter, and was admitted to the hospital. He died May 11th 1864 and became the first soldier to be buried in Arlington Cemetery on May 13th 1864.

The early burials were made in Mary Lee’s rose garden. These first graves were dug by a former Arlington House slave, James Parker. He would latter become the only person buried in the Arlington National Cemetery who was born on the property. There would be 2,111 unknown Civil War dead buried just outside of Arlington House in 1866, with a memorial built on the grounds to honor these Union soldiers.

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