Section 27 and Freedman’s Village in Arlington National Cemetery

The African American History of America’s Most Hallowed Ground


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About the Book

From its origination, Arlington National Cemetery’s history has been compellingly intertwined with that of African Americans. This book explains how the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the home of Robert E. Lee and a plantation of the enslaved, became a military camp for Federal troops, a freedmen’s village and farm, and America’s most important burial ground. During the Civil War, the property served as a pauper’s cemetery for men too poor to be returned to their families, and some of the very first war dead to be buried there include over 1,500 men who served in the United States Colored Troops. More than 3,800 former slaves are interred in section 27, the property’s original cemetery.

About the Author(s)

Ric Murphy is an educator, historian, lecturer and award-winning author. He has served as board chair of several organizations and on numerous additional national and local not-for-profit boards. He lives in Virginia.

Historian Timothy Stephens is a national expert in public health and emergency preparedness. He has been a national public health leader and commentator for more than twenty years, and advises risk managers on emerging public health threats. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Ric Murphy and Timothy Stephens
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 237
Bibliographic Info: 46 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7730-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3641-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Images, Tables, Figures and Maps ix
“Bury Me in a Free Land” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper xii
Introduction 1
1. The Men Who Shaped Arlington 9
2. A City Under Siege 15
3. Arlington Plantation 23
4. Enslavement at Arlington 35
5. Civil War 56
6. Washington’s Contraband 65
7. Health and Medical Care 76
8. Freedman’s Village 92
9. National Cemeteries 103
10. United States Colored Troops 113
11. The Contraband Cemetery 128
12. The Forgotten Union Blue 134
13. Eviction 145
14. Reconstruction, Reconciliation and Retribution 153
Epilogue 172
Appendix I. Chronology 177
Appendix II. Inventory of Slaves at Arlington    Plantation Belonging to G.W.P. Custis, January 1, 1858 183
Appendix III. Emancipation by R.E. Lee of G.W.P. Custis’ Enslaved 184
Appendix IV. Growth of Employment in Washington, D.C., from 1850 to 1870 186
Appendix V. An African American Walking Tour of Arlington Cemetery 188
Chapter Notes 193
Bibliography 209
Index 219

Book Reviews & Awards

Winner, Phillis Wheatley Award for Historical Nonfiction Historical Research-Era—Sons & Daughters of the United States Middle Passage