Formation of Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Myer


Submitted by Alice Warner

Book Title: United States Military Reservations, National Cemeteries And Military Parks


This reservation is situated on the west bank of the Potomac River, opposite
Washington, D.C., and, together with an area between the Georgetown and
Alexandria road and the Potomac River of about 330 acres, jurisdiction as to
which is in the Department of Agriculture (act of Apr. 18, 1900 as amended June
3, 1902; 32 Stat., 293), contains, according to survey, about 1,046 acres, with
metes and bounds as given in G. O. 27, W.D., Feb 10, 1909. To this was added, in
1913, 3.7165 acres for a road between the Potomac Highway Bridge and the
reservation, making the total area of the reservation about 1,050 cres. The
following statement under "Title" contains a full description of the title,
etc., to the reservation:

Title.-- This tract of land, improved by sundry buildings, etc., the legal title
to which, under the will of George W. Parke Custis, who died in 1857, was in
Mrs. Mary Ann Randolph Lee, the wife of Gen. Robert E. Lee, for life, with
remainder over to George Washington Custis Lee in fee conditional, was taken
possession of by the United States in the spring of 1861 as within their
military lines and the immediate scene of important military operations against
an enemy then in arms against the Government, and so continued in possessions
for such purposes after the course of events had carried military occupation and
operations elsewhere, as a defensible position for fortifications to command the
capital. Subsequently, under a certain direct tax act of June 7, 1862 (12 Stat.,
422), and February 6, 1863 (12 Stat., 640), a tax was assessed against the
property, and, in default of payment, the usual sale was had, when the United
States, pursuant to authority of law, bid in the property at the tax sale "for
Government use for war, military, charitable, and educational purposes," and
under this title continued in possession until 1883. During this period a
considerable part of the property was devoted to a cemetery for deceased
soldiers of the United States under the style of the "Arlington National
Cemetery"; another considerable part for the erection of a fort and the works
connected therewith, under the name of "Fort Whipple," subsequently changed to
"Fort Myer"; and a third and smaller part for the occupation of homeless and
destitute freedmen and colored refugees.

After the close of the war, Mrs. Lee having deceased, the remaining underman,
George W.P.C. Lee, claiming that the tax sale was defective, brought and action
of ejectment in the circuit court for the county of Alexandria, Va., which was
removed by a writ of certiorari into the circuit court of the United States,
where it was heard and determined in favor of the claimant. From this decision
the case was taken to the Supreme Court on writs of error, and the latter court,
at its October term, 1882, affirmed the judgement in favor of Mr. Lee, on the
ground that the tax certificate and sale did not divest the plaintiff of his
title to the property. (See U.S. v. Lee; Kaufman v. Lee, 16 Otto, 196.) Under
this new condition of affairs, involving a possible removal of thousands of
bodies from the cemetery, the dismantling of a fort, and the dispossession of
many colored people whom the United States had permitted to reside on a part of
the tract, and in order to secure a complete title to the property, the United
States, under authority of an act approved March 3, 1883 (22 Stat., 584),
accepted an offer of Mr. Lee to convey the same, with covenant of general
warranty against every manner of claim against or in respect of said property,
in rem or in personam, and also against all and every claim for damages on
account of the use or occupation of said property, for the sum of $150,000.

Accordingly, on the 31st of March, 1883, for and in consideration of $125,000 in
hand paid ($25,000 being retained until jurisdiction should be ceded by the
State of Virginia with perpetual exemption from taxation), the estate all and
singular was conveyed to the United States by deed in fee simple by George W. P.
C. Lee for himself, his heirs, and assigns forever (deed recorded in book F 4,
records of Alexandria County, Va., p. 257, May 14, 1883); and on the 25th of
March 1884, the General Assembly of the State of Virginia having, by act
approved February 23, 1884, ceded its jurisdiction over the said land and
exempted the same from taxation, the final payment of $25,000 was made, and the
Arlington estate became the property of the United States.

Title to tract acquired in 1913 for road from reservation to Highway Bridge:

Deed from H. Rozier Dulaney, and R. Walton Moore, trustees, dated April 2, 1913,
conveying a strip of land 70 feet in width leading from near the southeast
corner of the reservation to the Highway Bridge containing 3.7165 acres.
Recorded in deed book 137, page 586, land records of the county of Alexandria.

By order of the Secretary of War, dated January 11, 1897, the limits of the
national military cemetery within the foregoing described estate were defined
and the area fixed at 408 1/30 acres.

My order of the Secretary of War, dated February 8, 1889, the limits of the post
of Fort Myer within the aforesaid-described estate were defined and the area
fixed at 186 acres, and the remainder of the estate placed in charge of the
Quartermaster's Department.

Esements.-- Act of Congress approved February 28, 1891 (26 Stat., 789), granted
a right of way through the reservation to the Washington & Arlington Railway Co.
Location approved by the Secretary of War December 12, 1891.

Act of Congress approved March 3, 1893 (27 Stat., 747), granted a right of way
66 feet wide through the reservation to the Washington Southern Railway Co.
Location approved by the Secretary of War June 1, 1893.

Act of Congress approved December 8, 1894 (28 Stat., 593), granted a right of
way 50 feet in width through the reservation to the Washington, Alexandria &
Mount Vernon Railway Co.

Revocable licenses.-- February 27, 1889, to the board of supervisors of
Alexandria County to open and maintain a road 40 feet wide upon the reservation.

September 5, 1894, to the Washington, Arlington, & Falls Church Railway Co.,
owner of railway constructed by Washington & Arlington Railway Co., to construct
line of double track on the reservation and to erect passenger shed at its
terminus and at a platform and shed near Fort Myer Reservoir.

April 20, 1895, to the Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway Co. to
construct, operate, and maintain its line of railway across the northwest corner
of the reservation.

April 26, 1898, to the Washington, Arlington, & Falls Church Railway Co. to
extend its line of tracks across the Fort Myer Reservation. Change in location
authorized May 2, 1908, to make room for post buildings.

November 26, 1898, to the Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway Co. to
connect with Government water main and drain pipe at the station building near
Arlington Cemetery gate.

May 4, 1899, to the Home Telephone Co. to place poles along western boundary of
the reseration.

February 27, 1901, to Washington, Arlington, & Fall Church Railway Co. to
construct and maintain small shelter station on the reservation.

July 31, 1902, to Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway Co. to change the
location of its tracks on the reservation.

February 19, 1904, to the Falls Church Telephone & Telegraph Co. to erect and
maintain not exceeding 10 poles on the reservation.

April 25, 1906 to Washington, Arlington, & Falls Church Railway Co. for
extension of tracks to connect with line of Washington, Alexandria & Mount
Vernon Railway.

February 11, 1909, to the Falls Church Telegraph & Telephone Co. for wires on
trolley poles of the Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway Co.

February 27, 1909, to Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway Co. for
double-track electric railway with loop.

May 22, 1909, to the Falls Church Telegraph & Telephone Co. for telephone line
along west line of public road on west side of Fort Myer.

April --, 1910, to Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway Co. to install
additional toilet facilities in its Fort Myer station and to make connection
with the Government water and sewer main.

February 28, 1911, to the Navy Department to occupy additional area for its
wireless-telegraph station.

June 12, 1911, to Arlington Electric Powe Co. to construct electric pole
transmission line on reservation.

November 21, 1911, to Potomac Electric Power Co., on request of Navy Department,
to erect poles on reservation in connection with extension of the wireless
station at Fort Myer.

For further priveleges see "Aqueduct Bridge."

Jurisdiction.-- Ceded to the United States by the act of State legislature,
heretofore referred to, which is as follows:

Whereas, Robert T. Lincoln, Secretary of War of the United States, has made
application to this General Assembly, for its consent to the purchse by the
authorities of the United States of a tract of land, described as follows: All
that certain tract or body of land, situate in Alexandria County (formerly in
Fairfax County), in the state of Virginia, commonly known as the Arlington House
estate, containing eleven hundred acres, be the same ever so much more or less,
being the identical tract or body of land, which was conveyed by Gerard
Alexander and wife, to John PArke Custis, by deed bearing date, December
twenty-fifth, A. D. one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, and of him the
said John Parke Custis, inherited by George W. P. Custice, who devised the same
to George W. C. Lee, and by him, the said George W. C. Lee, conveyed to the
United States, by deed bearing date the thirty-first day of March, eighteen
hundred and eighty three, recorded in Liber F, number four, folio two hundred
and fifty seven, one of the land records of Alexandria County, Virginia, and
whereas, the United States authorities held possession of said real estate,
claiming absolute ownership thereof from January eleventh, eighteen hundred and
sixty four, until March thirty first, eighteen hundred and eighty three, and
used the same as a national cemetery for the burial of deceased soldiers and
sailors, and for other public purposes, during which period no taxes, or county
or township levies were either demanded or paid thereon, and for which a claim
has been recently asseted: therefore,

1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, That the consent of this
state is hereby given to the purchase of said tract of land by the Government of
the United States of America, but this consent is given subject to the following
terms and conditions, to wit: That this State retains concurrent jurisdiction
with the United States over the said tract of land, so that courts, magistrates,
and officers of this state may take such cognizance, execute such process, and
discharge such other legal functions within the same as may not be incompatible
with the consent hereby given.

2. That said tract of land and the buildings now or that may hereafter be
erected thereon, and any property of the United States, on said tract, are
hereby exempted from all taxes imposed by this state, or by the constituted
authorities of Alexandria COunty, and this exemption shall be in force from the
date of said purchase by the United States, March thirty-first, eighteen hundred
and eighty-three, and shall continue only so long as the United States shall be
and remain the owner of said tract of land; and all taxes, and county, township
and district levies, due or claimed to be due, for, against, or upon said real
estate since the same went into possession of and has been held and used by the
United States authorities, as aforesaid, are hereby released and discharged.
(See Code of Va., 1904, Sec. 15.)

See also "General Act of Cession."


Arlington National Cemetery

This reservation contains an area of 408 1/30 acres, being a portion of the
Arlington estate.

See "Arlington" for Situation, title, and jurisdiction

Additional Comments:

United States
Military Reservations
National Cemeteries
and Military Parks

Title, Jurisdiction, etc.

Prepared in the Office of the U.S. Judge Advocate General's Dept. (Army)
United States Army
Revised Edition 1916

Washington, Government Printing Office 1916



Arlington County, Virginia