American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

Gravesite of James McCubbin Lingan, one of the Revolutionary War soldiers buried at Arlington

Eleven veterans of the American Revolutionary War are buried in Sections 1 and 2. These men did not die in battle; all died years or even decades after the Revolutionary War. Originally buried elsewhere, their remains were disinterred and then brought to Arlington for reinterment. The majority of reinterments occurred between 1892 and 1911, as Arlington National Cemetery was becoming the nation's most prestigious military cemetery and war memorial. In Arlington's early years, national cemeteries were considered primarily as options for service members whose families could not afford to bring them home for a funeral. By the early 20th century, however, it had become an honor to be interred at Arlington — in part due to the annual tradition of Memorial Day, which had first been celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery in May 1868. The Revolutionary War burials confirmed Arlington's status as a national shrine, with gravesites representing all of the United States' major wars. (In 1905, the remains of 14 unknown soldiers from the War of 1812 were also reinterred in Section 1.) 

Notable Facts

  • The Revolutionary War gravesites are in Sections 1 and 2, nicknamed the "Officers' Sections" in the late 19th century, when high-ranking veterans began requesting burial there. Not all of the Revolutionary War veterans were high-ranking officers, however. Several of them have "General" on their gravestones, but were not actually generals during the Revolutionary War: James House, for example, was a matross (ranked below a gunner) with the 1st Artillery Regiment, and was promoted to brevet brigadier general after the War of 1812. James McCubbin Lingan was a captain, receiving the honorary title of general after retiring in 1781. 

  • William Russell (Section 1, Grave 314-A), the highest-ranking of the Revolutionary War burials, was a colonel during the war and a brigadier general when he died in 1793. He commanded regiments at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth, and later served in the Virginia state senate. Despite his high rank, Russell has a standard, government-furnished marker — proving that headstones do not indicate rank, even in the so-called "Officers' Sections."

  • Five of the 11 (Meason, House, Swan, Burrows, Carleton) were originally buried at Old Presbyterian Cemetery in Georgetown, which had fallen into disrepair during the late 19th century. These five were reinterred at Arlington between 1892 and 1907. 

  • Born in 1726, Thomas Meason (Section 1, Grave 297-B) is the oldest person buried at Arlington National Cemetery, based on birth year. 

  • Little is known about William Ward Burrows' (Section 1, Grave 301-B) Revolutionary War service. He is believed to have served in a South Carolina militia, possibly in a clandestine role. Burrows is better known as the first commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, after President John Quincy Adams established it as an independent service branch in 1798.

  • John Follin (Section 1, 295-1-2), from Virginia, is the only Continental Navy sailor at Arlington. He was just 17 years old when British sailors took him captive. Follin was held as a prisoner of war for three years. 

  • Hugh Auld (Section 2, Grave 4801) was a lieutenant in Maryland's Talbot County militia. His brother Thomas Auld's slaves included Frederick Douglass, who escaped from slavery and became an internationally renowed abolitionist, orator and writer. Thomas lent Douglass to Hugh Auld, who subsequently helped him to gain paid employment in a Baltimore shipyard, and ultimately to escape to freedom. 

  • James McCubbin Lingan (Section 1, Grave 89-A), a 2nd lieutenant in the Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment, was captured during the surrender of Fort Washington on November 16, 1776. He spent three and a half years imprisoned on the HMS Jersey, an infamous British prison ship. After the war, he was a founding member of the Society of the Cincinnati, a prestigious Revolutionary War veterans' organization. He was also an outspoken advocate of freedom of the press. During the War of 1812, he tried to defend a Baltimore anti-war newspaper when its office was attacked by a violent mob. Lingan was severely beaten, and he later died from his injuries. George Washington Parke Custis delivered the eulogy at Lingan's funeral — although, of course, Custis' Arlington estate was not yet a national cemetery, and Lingan was originally laid to rest at a private cemetery in Georgetown.

  • Arlington's best-known Revolutionary War figure is Pierre Charles L'Enfant (Section 1, Grave S-3), the architect and city planner who designed the plan for Washington, D.C. Born in France, L'Enfant came to America to fight for the revolution, and the Continental Congress commissioned him as a lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. During the siege of Savannah, Georgia, he was wounded and captured as a prisoner of war. He later served on George Washington's staff. In spite of his war record and his subsequent renown as a city planner, L'Enfant died in poverty on a Maryland farm, and was originally buried there in an unremarkable grave. In 1909, Congress ordered L'Enfant's remains to be disinterred and brought to Washington, D.C., and they lay in state in the U.S. Capitol before reinterment at Arlington in an elaborate ceremony. The marble monument, erected in 1911, features an engraving of L'Enfant's plan for the nation's capital. 

  • The Lexington Minuteman commemorative plaque and memorial tree (Section 1) honors eight "minutemen" (American colonial militia members) who sacrificed their lives for the cause of independence in Lexington, Massachusetts at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The Lexington Minute Men, a re-enactment organization, contributed the memorial plaque and tree in 2000. The tree is an eastern hemlock. 

Name and Unit Date of Death Date of Reinterment Section Grave
William Russell, Continental Army  Jan. 14, 1793 July 17, 1943            1 314-A
Hugh Auld, Maryland Talbot County militia Dec. 7, 1813 Apr. 12, 1935 2 4801
John Green,1st Artillery Regiment  1793 April 23, 1931 1 503
John Follin, Continental Navy  Apr. 17, 1841 May 23, 1911 1 295-1-2
William Ward Burrows, U.S. Marine Corps  March 6, 1805 May 12, 1892 1 301-B
Caleb Swan, 3rd and 8th Massachussetts Regiments  Nov. 29, 1809 May 12, 1892 1 301-C
James House, 1st Artillery Regiment  Nov. 17, 1834 May 12, 1892 1 297-A
Joseph Carleton, Pulaski's Legion  May 11, 1812 Nov. 13, 1907 1 299-WS
James McCubbin Lingan, Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment July 28, 1812 Nov. 5, 1908 1 89-A
Pierre Charles L'Enfant, Corps of Engineers June 14, 1825 April 28, 1909 2 S-3
Thomas Meason, Continental Army March 10, 1813 May 12, 1892 1 297-B

 

*Note: If the deceased's military unit is not reliably established, or if he served in multiple units, "Continental Army" is listed.