History buffs, representatives from the Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington and a local D.C. city council member joined staff from Rock Creek Park this past Saturday to rededicate Battleground National Cemetery, where Union troops killed in the Battle of Fort Stevens now rest.
Money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) helped to restore the Superintendent’s Lodge, the 1921 marble rostrum, and the cemetery’s grounds. The Superintendent’s Lodge was designed from standardized plans drafted by the quartermaster general of the Union Army, Montgomery C. Meigs.
“We could not be more delighted and happier about the results of this effort and the help of these ARRA funds,” said Tara Morrison, superintendent of Rock Creek Park. “All the work performed here will make this cemetery and surrounding grounds more respectful of the troops buried here and more attractive to surrounding neighbors and will better demonstrate to the visiting public the role and function the National Park Service performs here. This is a great day for Rock Creek Park and for residents of Washington, D.C.”
Battleground National Cemetery was dedicated to honor the Union soldiers who fought and sacrificed their lives at the Battle of Fort Stevens on July 11-12, 1864. Confederates led by General Jubal Early attacked the defenses of Washington in an unsuccessful attempt to capture the city and distract Union forces in the South. The exact date of the cemetery dedication is unknown, but veterans of the battle reported that President Abraham Lincoln dedicated the cemetery ground, where 41 Union soldiers are buried.
Soldiers buried at the cemetery are from New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine and represent just a small number of the men who served and fought bravely on both sides of the conflict. Some Confederate soldiers who died at the Battle of Fort Stevens are buried at Grace Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.