A Stroll Through Arlington: Part One

P1030339Not too long ago I paid a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. There you can see Arlington House, once Robert E. Lee’s home, surrounded by the final resting places of many famous Americans.


To the south of the mansion is a rather fine equestrian monument dedicated to Phil Kearny. When people ask questions about what if this commander or that commander had survived their encounter with death during the war, one should not forget Kearny. The Army of the Potomac would have been a different army had he not been killed at Chantilly.


Here’s a closeup of the general, who does not seem to be distracted by a nearby fly.

P1030376Many Americans know that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at Arlington National Cemetery, but not as many know of this memorial to the unknown Union soldiers whose remains were collected in 1865 in the area ranging south of Bull Run to Richmond. It is also south of Arlington House.


Three rather famous Union commanders are buried on the lawn immediately east of Arlington House. Here’s David D. Porter’s final resting place. The temporarily erected marker persists.


And here one finds Phil Sheridan and his family. I declined to leave a copy of Eric Wittenberg’s book. Often this monument goes unnoticed because its back is blank and obscured from view by the tree just behind it.

P1030367Finally, here’s the final resting place of Horatio G. Wright, who took over the Sixth Corps when John Sedgwick went down at Spotsylvania on May 9, 1864. Wright’s men would later help defend Washington from Jubal Early, so it’s appropriate that his monument looks out on the capital city. Sheridan probably appreciates that Wright’s nearby given their cooperation during the 1864 Valley Campaign that resulted in the defeat of Early at Third Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, and Cedar Creek.

Our journey will continue shortly.


12 thoughts on “A Stroll Through Arlington: Part One

  1. Rod Gainer July 10, 2014 / 6:21 am

    Just a bit more info. The Tomb of the Civil War Unknown contains the remains of at least 2,111 soldiers. The Kearny monument is also his tomb. His remains are inclosed in the pedestal. Kearny was originally buried at Trinity Churchyard in New York. In 1912, his remains were exhumed and re-interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

  2. Clark B. Hall July 10, 2014 / 8:07 am

    Back in 1986 when Brian Pohanka, Ed Wenzel and myself formed the Chantilly Battlefield Association for the purpose of encouraging Fairfax County (VA) officials to preserve the Chantilly (Ox Hill) Battlefield, the three of us made several appearances before the intransigent Board of Supervisors–a bureaucratic entity that conveyed zero interest in saving Fairfax’s largest Civil War battlefield.

    As you know, both Phil Kearny and Isaac Stevens were killed in that savage battle, a point that we made with some frequency in our public presentations. Finally exasperated upon repeatedly hearing that Kearny and Stevens were killed at Ox Hill, Jack Herrity, Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors whispered the phrase to a Board colleague via an open microphone, “Who gives a damn about saving a place where some Yankee generals got shot in the ass?”

    Well, I had previously seen Brian Pohanka angry at other slights directed toward us by the BoS, but I had never before seen him so instantaneously furious that he was ready to approach the Board and slug it out with the loathsome Jack Herrity. It took all we could do to calm Brian down and ease him out of the Board Room.

    So, today we have a very small battlefield park at Chantilly and the Kearny/Stevens Memorial Markers are certainly worth a respectful visit by your readers. But please remember that whatever we saved (4.8 acres out of a 300 acre battlefield) is sacred ground that is today preserved over the sectional objections of an arrogantly offensive elected official. (Jack Herrity died in 2006, and I have yet to pay my respects to his memory.)

    But every single day we do continue to mourn the death of our dear friend and fellow preservationist, Brian Pohanka.

    • The other Susan July 10, 2014 / 3:24 pm

      You don’t happen to know what became of Brian’s Chamberlain research do you? There are a few quotes that are attributed to speeches that I haven’t found them in http://dragoon1st.tripod.com/cw/files/jlc_words.html
      He has left me quite a task of duplicating his work.

      Along the lines of your story above and Yankee’s being shot in the ass, Brian might appreciate this: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6nBDa/ab/93YSU2
      Though it’s a shame that no land could have been preserved of Fort Sedgwick or the 5th Corps line.

    • Christopher Shelley July 11, 2014 / 9:23 am

      Isaac Ingalls Stevens is of particular interest to me. An ambitious young man–a “young man in a hurry” his biography Gordon Dodds called him–Stevens was sent to the Pacific Northwest after the Whitman “Massacre” to negotiate treaties with the Indians here, and get them to cede their title. He ended up getting ten treaties signed in this period.

      What’s of most interest to me is the language the Puget Sound and Columbia Plateau tribes insisted on, and Stevens agreed to: that the tribes could continue to fish “at all usual and accustomed places in common with the white settlers of the territory.” This phrase has turned out to be one of the most important elements in American Indian jurisprudence, since it has been interpreted to mean Indians have “reserved rights” to water, minerals, fish, and game that are off reservation but not included in the treaties. In these days, the reserved rights doctrine has become the cornerstone (actually, this is probably a bad word choice among this crowd) of the modern Indian Sovereignty movement.

      So, because this ambitious young Democrat was too cheap to feed the people who he was trying to kick off their land, Stevens unwittingly allowed them some of the tools to ensure they could and would resist assimilation some 160-odd years later.

      • Clark B. Hall July 11, 2014 / 1:04 pm

        Civil War News readers will recognize the name of Deborah Fitts, for many years the assistant editor and lead reporter. Deborah was my beloved wife, and cancer took her from us in 2008.

        Deborah was from Andover, MA, and her father, Dudley Fitts, was a legendary teacher at Phillips Academy in Andover. Deb’s family is therefore a longtime “PA” family and she, her brother, nephews, and many cousins matriculated at Andover.

        Well her husband (me) is from Mississippi and I clearly did not go to PA–which academic shortcoming caused me early credibility problems with Deb’s mother. (She got over it.) But despite some long odds that direct descendants of the 22nd Mass. Inf. and the 13th Miss. Infantry would meet and then be happily married, Deb and I in fact had a truly wonderful life together. (And anybody who knows us is aware of this fact.)

        Now, to get to the point:
        Isaac Ingalls Stevens is a graduate of Phillips Academy (1833) and being a decades-long Trustee of the Kearny/Stevens Memorial Markers at Chantilly, one can imagine how much I have always admired both officers. That said, I have always felt special admiration for a general officer who grabbed a flag at Ox Hill, held it high, and charged in front of his men, dying bravely in the process. General isaac Stevens, like Phil Kearny, was certainly not anybody’s idea of an armchair general.

        My wife has a friend, a professional genealogist, and Deb commissioned this person about eight years ago to research my historical family.. Long story short, but the researcher soon circled back and reported the prime mover on my mother’s side arrived in this country in the late 1600’s as a ship’s captain at the port of Salem, MA. He married (1715) a Deborah Ingalls from Andover, MA.

        Our friend the researcher then indicated that I could boast at least two famous ancestors: Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Isaac ingalls Stevens. Donna was more impressed with the former. But, not me.

        No, it thrills me to know General Stevens was a cousin, and that my blood family also graduated from my wife’s cherished school, Phillips Academy, Andover.

  3. Bob Nelson July 10, 2014 / 8:25 am

    Great pictures and commentary. Thanks for sharing.

  4. The other Susan July 10, 2014 / 11:34 am

    Does it bother anyone else that the National Park is called “Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial”? If we look at other park names we have for houses, “Frederick Douglass National Historic Site”, “Andrew Johnson National Historic Site” , “Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site”. It’s not like it’s one of the memorials on the National Mall.

  5. TF Smith July 10, 2014 / 6:35 pm

    Kearny and Kearney?

      • TF Smith July 12, 2014 / 10:52 am

        Undetstood – posting from the road is a pain, sometimes. Best,

  6. Bert July 11, 2014 / 11:43 am

    As you know, I agree completely regarding Kearny. He was at least as good as Joe Hooker, without the ego and political issues. Nice presentation here; looking forward to Part 2.

  7. Noma July 11, 2014 / 2:06 pm

    Just finished re-reading Chester Hearn’s “Admiral David Dixon Porter” today, so it’s great to see his tombstone.

    He and Lincoln were like teen-age boys when they “stole” the ship Powhatten on the very eve of the firing on Fort Sumter.

    I think most Americans are not aware of Lincoln’s ten days of comparative peace and happiness when Porter took him aboard the Malvern around March 28, 1865. “Uncle Abe is having a good time down here, and would have had a better one had he come alone. Mrs. Lincoln got jealous of a lady down here, and rather pulled his wig for him. [Then she went back to Washington, while Lincoln joined Porter on the Malvern.] We put him through the Navy and did all we could to make him forget the cares of office. [Such as not allowing any of Lincoln’s cabinet members meet with him.]”

    Hearn describes the visit, “The rode horseback and took pleasure in each other’s company, for Lincoln had finally found a man who could spin as many yarns as himself.”

    And finally, this little note on their remembrance of Benjamin Butler’s brilliant plan to capture Fort Fisher by exploding a ship full of explosives 500 yard away from the fort:

    “I don’t think, Admiral, that your friend the General was very much of an engineer.” Porter quietly agreed. “I don’t think,” Lincoln added, “that your friend the General was much of a general either.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s