Sketch of the Northwest Bedroom [Girls' Chamber]
This Cruel War!-Roughing it at Arlington House Va.
By Charly Miyan
Pencil sketch of the northwest bedroom, also known as the Girls’ Chamber, second floor, Arlington House.
This sketch made by a Union soldier is the only picture known to exist of the interior of historic Arlington House. It depicts a soldier leaning back in a chair with his feet on a table, bottles in the fireplace, and several pieces of furniture that are still at Arlington House. These are drawn in detail, including the statue of the Three Graces and a secretary or desk. This sketch was probably made early in the war as, by the end of the war, very few of the Lee’s possessions remained.
During the Civil War, Arlington ceased being a plantation and family home. It became an armed encampment. Geography made the estate vital to the defense of Washington. Robert E. Lee knew that the US Army would occupy his home. When he made his decision to offer his services to Virginia, he sacrificed his family’s home. Immediately following Virginia’s ratification of surrender, thousands of US troops were on the march across the Long Bridge and onto the Arlington estate, making it the first southern territory occupied during the war.
At first, Union troops were ordered to stay out of the house by their commander, Gen. Irwin McDowell, who had written to Mrs. Lee promising to protect the house. Within days the soldiers broke in, rummaged through the Lees’ possessions, and took souvenirs. McDowell and other officers moved into the house. Throughout the war, the house was used as living quarters by officers and their families.
Paper, pencil. L 32.8, W 18.3 cm
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, ARHO 2117