Battleground National Cemetery is significant for its association with the only military engagement ever fought in the District of Columbia. It is the District's only national cemetery for Civil War casualties, and it is the Nation's smallest national cemetery in number of burials.
On July 11-12, 1864, a Confederate force under Lt. Gen. Jubal Early advancing on Washington from the northwest confronted Union defenders at Fort Stevens, one of the earthworks forming a defensive perimeter around the Nation's Capital during the Civil War. Faced with Union reinforcements, the Confederates withdrew after an exchange of fire that left 59 Union soldiers dead and 145 wounded. Forty of these dead were carried to a field one-half mile north of Fort Stevens and interred in what was established as Battleground National Cemetery. The Federal Government acquired title to the one-acre cemetery tract in 1867.
The War Department developed and maintained the cemetery until 1933, when it was transferred to the administration of the National Park Service. The 40 Civil War interments were augmented by those of four civilian relatives of a cemetery superintendent in the 1870s and a 92-year-old veteran of the Fort Stevens engagement in 1936. The cemetery has since been closed to further burials. With Fort Stevens, also administered by the National Park Service, Battleground National Cemetery stands as a physical reminder of the most direct military threat to Washington since the British invasion of 1814.
National Register listing October 15, 1966 (documented April 4, 1980)
DC Listing March 3, 1979