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A Reminder of West Point
A House Sacrificed
Before the Union Army crossed the Potomac River in May 1861, the Lees fled their home. They saved most of the “Washington Treasury,” including the bed where George Washington died, and their most valued possessions. As Mary Lee recalled, “There was little time to deliberate. The family plate so long treasured especially that portion in which my Father inherited from Mt. Vernon was the first secured, then our own.”
A Union soldier stole the only known portrait of the Lees’ daughter, Annie, (pictured right) who died during the war. The soldier’s descendants later returned it to Arlington. Emma Gray Syphax—once enslaved at Arlington—identified the figure as Annie.
A House Overrun by War
In 1861 thousands of Union troops occupied Arlington and fortified the area surrounding the estate. Officers and their families lived in the mansion, turning it into a military headquarters. Although officers made some efforts to protect the house, soldiers looted the property. Some saw the damage as retribution for Lee’s role in the Confederacy.
“The military headquarters of McDowell’s division was in the Arlington House, which was open to the public and hundreds tramped at will through its apartments.”–Rufus R. Dawes, 6th Wisconsin Volunteers
Center Hall | Conservatory | Custis Bedchamber | Custis Guest Room | Dining Room | Family Parlor | Hunting Hall | Morning Room | Office | School Room | White Parlor | South Slave Quarters Museum Exhibit | Smokehouse | Selina Gray's Quarters | North Slave Quarters Museum Exhibit | Miss Judy's Quarters | George Clark's Room and Summer Kitchen | Museum
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Last updated: June 17, 2021