In July 1864, the Battle of Fort Stevens marked the defeat of Confederate General Jubal Anderson Early’s campaign to launch an offensive attack on the national capital. During the battle, fifty-nine Union soldiers perished, while there were approximately 500 casualties on the Confederate side. After the battle, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs seized one acre of farmland to bury the dead. Under the direction of President Abraham Lincoln and General Meigs, forty Union soldiers were buried on the evening of July 12 on the battlefield site; they were later moved to the current location of Battleground National Cemetery.
The War Department maintained the cemetery until 1933, when it was transferred its care to the National Park Service. After the internment of a ninety-two year-old veteran of the Battle of Fort Stevens in 1936, the cemetery closed to any further burials. Along with Fort Stevensalso administered by the National Park Service) Battleground National Cemetery stands as a physical reminder of the most direct military threat to DC since the British invasion of 1814.
DC Inventory: March 3, 1979
National Register: October 15, 1966