Near Arlington House, in what was once part of its famous rose garden, stands a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who died in the Civil War. The monument, dedicated in September 1866, stands atop a masonry vault containing the remains of 2,111 soldiers gathered from the fields of Bull Run and the route to the Rappahannock. The remains were found scattered across the battlefields or in trenches and brought here. This monument was the first memorial at Arlington to be dedicated to soldiers who had died in battle, and who later could not be identified. Because in some instances only a few bones or a skull were recovered, it is assumed that the vault contains the remains of Confederate soldiers as well as Union troops.
Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs ordered that these bodies be gathered and buried on this particular site, knowing that the presence of graves here would prevent the Lee family from inhabiting their house again.
The side of the memorial features this inscription:
BENEATH THIS STONE
REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS
GATHERED AFTER THE WAR
FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN, AND THE ROUTE TO THE RAPPAHANOCK,
THEIR REMAINS COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED. BUT THEIR NAMES AND DEATHS ARE
RECORDED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THEIR COUNTRY, AND ITS GRATEFUL CITIZENS
HONOR THEM AS OF THEIR NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.
SEPTEMBER. A. D. 1866.