The Civil War
Arlington National Cemetery exists because of the Civil War. Arlington officially became a national cemetery on June 15, 1864, but the U.S. Army had occupied the property since 1861 — due to its strategic location on high ground just across from Washington, D.C. During the war, thousands of Civil War soldiers were buried here, and numerous Civil War-era monuments and memorials honor their service and sacrifice. A thriving Freedman's Village, a community of formerly enslaved African Americans, also once existed on this property. These learning materials highlight the diverse stories of individuals who fought in and/or were affected by the nation's bloodiest conflict: White and Black, military and civilian, well-known officers and "ordinary" enlisted soldiers.

Walking Tours: The Civil War

Thousands of Civil War service members are buried at Arlington National Cemetery — which itself originated during the Civil War. On this tour, you will explore some of their stories; learn why the U.S. Army first occupied the property in 1861; and discover the histories of enslavement and emancipation that this land also embodies.
  • Distance: ~5 miles (full tour); ~2.5 miles (student tour)/li>
  • Exertion Level: High
  • Starting point: Section 27 (.5 miles from Welcome Center) 

Walking Tour: Freedman's Village

The southern sections of Arlington National Cemetery contain the former site of Freedman’s Village — a community of formerly enslaved African Americans, established in 1863. Freedman’s Village evolved into a unique and thriving community, and it had a lasting legacy. Learn more and explore other nearby Civil War gravesites.
  • Distance: ~.6 miles
  • Exertion Level: Moderate
  • Starting point: Section 3 (1.5 miles from Welcome Center)