Barney Circle in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Congressional Cemetery Government Lots
Civil War Washington City
Over the course of the Civil War, the nation's capital was transformed. The dignified government city Pierre Charles L' Enfant laid out in 1791 was hardened into a sprawling military center. Encircled by strong defenses, the District of Columbia was among the most-heavily fortified cities in the world from 1861-1865.
As fighting continued and Union casualties rose, the U.S. Army created a medical center to care for injured soldiers flooding the city. A lone hospital served the city in April 1861. Five years later, there were 100 or more. The two largest hospitals—Freedman and Lincoln—each housed in excess of 2,000 patients. Armory Square, Carver, Emory, and Mount Pleasant hospitals each contained 1,000 or more beds.
Washington City's population skyrocketed when 30,000 fugitive slaves arrived in search of freedom and opportunity. When the Compensated Emancipation Act became law on April 16, 1862, it became the first emancipated city in America. Thousands of freedmen enlisted here and served in the U.S. Colored Troops.
The Burial Ground
Eligibility later extended to other government officials. About 1820, it became the practice here to memorialize notables with a “cenotaph.” A headstone marks a grave; a cenotaph usually does not. Of the 169 cenotaphs here, about fifty mark a burial. By 1876, Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia surpassed Congressional Cemetery as the preferred destination for deceased national leaders.
U.S. government property within Congressional Cemetery is made up of many separate lots—806 sites contain 469 burials. These are marked with government-issued headstones, cenotaphs, or other private memorial objects.
Civil War Burials
In 1868, the U.S. Army reported seventy-nine Union soldiers interred in Congressional Cemetery. The men likely died at military facilities nearby. Most Union soldiers who died in the Washington area were buried in the national cemetery established in August 1861 at the Soldiers' Home (now Armed Forces Retirement Home, Washington, D.C.), and after 1863 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Erected by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial Sites • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the National Cemeteries series list.
Location. 38° 52.874′ N, 76° 58.706′ W. Marker is in Barney Circle in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Potomac Avenue Southeast and E Street Southeasr, on the right when traveling east. This marker is inside Congressional Cemetery. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1801 E Street Southeast, Washington DC 20003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking Commemorating The american Revolutionary Service of General Peterson Goodwyn (within shouting distance of this marker); Warren M. Robbins (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Leonard P. Matlovich (about 300 feet away); John Philip Sousa (about 300 feet away); Levi Casey (about 400 feet away); Pushmataha (about 500 feet away); "The Healing Poles" (about 500 feet away); National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Barney Circle.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 5, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 13, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 154 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on September 13, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 2. submitted on September 16, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on September 13, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.